Franklin County Seeks Permanent Solution To Its Jail Problems

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FRANKLIN COUNTY (KFSM)— A local county jail is facing a serious overcrowding issue.

The Franklin County jail was built in 1974, and Sheriff Anthony Boen says in 2016, the run down building is not meeting the minimum standards required by the state.

“We've done everything that we could possibly do for jail standards, but the overcrowding now is one of the biggest issues and also staffing power,” Sheriff Boen said.

He said the jail has about 40 inmates, but only 26 beds, so staff has had to order more mattresses and blankets.

“We've got them sleeping on the floors, so it's really been tough,” Boen said.

Expanding the facility does not look like a possibility because of plumbing troubles, electrical issues and the size of the property, according to Boen.

“I don't think adding on or going up even would be an option at this point,” he said.

A lot on Airport Road near the county extension office is one place the Franklin County Quorum Court is looking to build a new jail. The sheriff said it would have 100 beds and cost an estimated $8.4 million.

“It'll have to be off a tax increase,” he said.

Boen said the county already owns the lot, but he said it’s too soon to tell how much of a tax hike the county would have to ask voters for in order to build the facility.

The quorum court has until June 6, 2016 to present a plan of action to the Arkansas Criminal Detention Facility Review Committee. If they don't meet the deadline, the sheriff said the prison be converted into a 24-hour facility, which he said would be a huge expense to the county.

“If we have to pay another county to house our inmates, you're probably looking at $50 a day per inmate,” Boen said.

The next quorum court meeting is set for April 14, in which a company that builds jails will give a presentation. The sheriff said right now they are shopping contractors and architects.