Benton County Jail Expansion On Hold

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BENTONVILLE (KFSM) - The Benton County Jail expansion project, which has been in the works for about a year, is at a standstill.

The quorum court tabled plans for the $2 million dollar proposal during a regular meeting on Thursday (March 3), said Benton County Judge Bob Clinard.

"The Quorum Court, through us, has invited the judges and sheriffs to come back at a later date and explain why they need this misdemeanor holding area," Clinard said.

All eyes will now be upon the sheriff's office, said Barry Moehring, Justice of the Peace in Benton County's 15th district. It will be up to Sheriff Kelley Cradduck to decide if the project is needed.

"There's been fluctuations in the population at the jail, particularly with the misdemeanor population," said Moehring. "We're waiting to get a better handle on what the current population at the jail is, what the short term looks like, but also what is the long term population?"

Plans for the recent proposal will expire in about two months, but Moehring expects the quorum court to make a decision by then. With inmate numbers down, he said it may not be needed.

"You've got a couple things happening nationally and at the state level where we're looking at seeing if we can reduce the number of people that we have locked up in jail, particularity nonviolent offenders," said Moehring. "I think we need to see how that plays out."

Clinard would like action to be taken to as soon as possible to prevent crowding issues that could arise in the future.

"It's well known in the county among the criminal population that there's no place to put misdemeanors," said Clinard. "So they said if you go to court and you get a misdemeanor citation, it doesn't make a difference; they're not going to put you in jail."

The expansion is expected to be discussed at an upcoming court meeting, Moehring said.

5NEWS reached out to the Benton County Sheriff's Office for comment but did not get a response.

JP Moehring defeated Clinard in the Super Tuesday Republican Primary and will face Libertarian Ronnie Smith and write-in candidate Jeff Broadston in the Nov. 8 general election.