Jail Overcrowding Major Issue In Washington County Sheriff’s Race

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WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM)- Voters will decide if they want Sheriff Tim Helder to stay in office or if they want a new top boss with his opponent, Mort Marshall.

Helder is finishing his 5th term in a position he has held since 2004. He has also worked for the Fayetteville Police Department. He has 35 years of law enforcement experience.

Marshall is a retired Farmington police chief. He has also worked for police departments in Elkins and Lincoln. He has 24 years of law enforcement experience.

One issue the sheriff's office deals with on a daily basis is jail overcrowding.

Helder said his office has been working with legislators to solve the issue.

"We are going to have to put more money into brick and mortar to build more facilities," Helder said. "But I think if we are really going to have long-term impact we've got to work together, community, department of corrections, city, county, churches  and schools to try to figure out a way to educate people early on."

Marshall also agrees that jail overcrowding is a state-wide problem. However, he said he thinks the sheriff's office needs to put more pressure on the governor's office and the Department of Correction.

"We already have our circuit judges sentencing these prisoners to the Department of Corrections" Marshall said. "They need to be placed on notice to take their prisoners, and we just need to follow suit."

The state pays $28 each day per prisoner. Helder said they are working with legislators to increase that funding, and Marshall agrees that payment is too small for what it really costs to house inmates.

Helder said the sheriff's office has a community service program where nonviolent offenders can work. It has helped ease overcrowding, he said.

As for Marshall he said he wants to create the Code 50 program to have deputies check on all the elderly in the county.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

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