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Benton County Jail Looks for Overcrowding Solutions

The pods are packed at the Benton County Jail, and the sheriff's office is getting creative to deal with overcrowding.
Benton County, AR - The pods are packed at the Benton County Jail, and the sheriff's office is getting creative to deal with overcrowding.

"Our special-ops teams, our cyber crimes guys... all these divisions that we have, they're more effective and they're being more efficient," says Public Information Officer Keshia Guyll. "Therefore, they're making more arrests."

Guyll says a single shift in the patrol division made more than 500 arrests this year. She says the jail can handle the handiwork of proactive investigators, but it's also housing nearly 200 convicted criminals waiting to go to prison.

"The Arkansas Department of Corrections, they're backlogged with inmates as well," Guyll says. "They're in the same boat that we are."

Deputies started citing and releasing nonviolent misdemeanor offenders several months ago, and the sheriff's office is working with district court judges to find alternatives to jail time.

"We've talked about doing public service with (convicts) on the weekends," Guyll says. "Some other things are unsupervised misdemeanor probation, coming in for drug tests just kind of reporting in... and ankle monitors are a big thing we're doing right now."

Guyll says even if these tactics work, it's only treating the symptom of a larger issue.

"Recidivism is always an issue, people getting out of jail, getting out of prison, and then turning around and doing the exact same thing that they were in jail for," she says. "There's a core to it, and I don't know how to reach that core and I don't know how to fix it, but this is what we're having to deal with because of it."
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