HUNSTVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — The Madison County jail is struggling to find solutions to handle detainees and protect the public without exhausting its funds or raising taxes.
Madison County doesn’t have a full functioning jail, only a 24 hour holding facility. If detainees need to stay longer, they’re transported and housed in other counties which is expensive.
The county jail closed at the end of 2014 because it was not up to code. Sherriff Rick Evans said the building was outdated, the cells were small, and public safety was a concern.
The county budgeted $576,000 this year to house inmates in Caroll and Washington counties.That averages out to about $48,000 a month. Madison County Clerk Tamitha Blocker said it costs more $70,000 in January. Evans said if the county continues at this rate, it could end up going over budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars– and a new jail is necessary.
“We looked at different areas, looking for grants for money to try to come up with a solution. But right now the only solution is another tax and a tax is not necessarily a good thing,”said Evans.
Madison county residents have voted down a tax to build a new jail at least three times in the past.
Evans also approached the Quorum court Monday to apply for the COP grant and hire one more deputy. The grant would cover 75% of the deputies’ salary and benefits for three years but the county would need to cover the rest. That’s not happening because the county can’t afford it.
Evans says the county is at a loss right now with no real solution for a new jail.