Sebastian County Jail Faces Overcrowding Issues, Sheriff Hopes For Stabilization Unit

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SEBASTIAN COUNTY (KFSM) - Government statistics show Arkansas has the sixth highest rate of people going to prison. Because of that, many jails in the Natural State are overcrowded.

According to the Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck, the Sebastian County jail is overcrowded. There hasn't been a change at their facility for quite awhile now. In the past, they've either built a new jail or added on. However, the jail is now past the ten year mark since a major update.

The Sebastian County jail is supposed to hold no more than 356 inmates. As Tuesday (June 27), the amount of inmates in the jail is 483. Part of the problem is having individuals with mental health issues who are charged with crimes and booked into the jail.

Sheriff Hollenbeck said they're in the process of looking at solutions to solve the overcrowding issue.

"It's at a level now that it is dangerous and we have to address it," said Hollenback.

Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill allowing three stabilization units to be placed throughout the state. Hollenback said he is hoping to bring one to Sebastian County.

"We need to have a place to take them besides the jail so this gives the officer an opportunity not to make that arrest," said Hollenbeck. "It gets help for that individual who might be off his medication to get them back into society."

"I'm very thankful that our legislators have addressed it to a certain extent, but we still have a long way to go," Hollenback said.

Jail overcrowding is something that each community deals with. Later down the road, the sheriff said he might have to talk with the Quorum Court about a jail expansion.

Hollenbeck said Sebastian County is applying for one of the stabilization units right now. In the meantime, the solution to reduce overcrowding is lowering bonds, and having some inmates sentenced to community service work so they can work off their fine.