As Crawford Co. Unveils New Jail, Other Counties Discuss Need For New Facilities

CRAWFORD COUNTY (KFSM) -- After years of struggling with overcrowding Crawford County unveiled its new jail Friday (Nov. 4).

The budget to build the jail was about $20 million dollars. It took an estimated $17 million dollars to build; which means it was built nearly $3 million dollars below budget and completed almost two months early.

"That’s going to mean this is paid off sooner," Crawford County Judge John Hall said.

Possibly two years sooner than the originally expected eight. The $3 million dollars saved will go back into the bonds that paid for it.

“[They] will start moving in prisoners [on] Dec. 10th," said Hall, "That’s what they’re planning on. It’ll be full within 90 days.”

That will likely happen fast because now the jail can hold misdemeanor prisoners, not just felony offenders.

"It’s state-of-the-art, it's got everything in this thing is right up to date," Hall said. "They can actually handle 300 people probably easier than you can handle 70 down there because of the way it’s structured."

“Down there” is Sebastian County -- where discussions for a new jail are still underway.

“I’m so proud for Sheriff [Ron] Brown," Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck. "This is something [Crawford County] has needed for a long time. He’s had growing pains for years. We’re now in Sebastian County experiencing the same problems.”

It took four attempts to get the new Crawford County jail voted in. On the fourth try, they put it on a general election ballot rather than a primary ballot. Now Sebastian County will have to figure out its own solution.

"There's conversations of not building a brand new jail, but expanding the existing one, which would be a lot more cost effective than building a brand new jail," Hollenbeck said.

The State Jail Committee will soon release a new report on the state of the Sebastian County Jail, which has been dealing with overcrowding for almost a decade.