Washington County sheriff blames jail violence on overcrowding

News

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Washington County sheriff’s deputy is punched in the face by an inmate and it’s all caught on body camera video.

Sheriff Tim Helder says overcrowding is to blame. He says overcrowding at the jail is making it harder for deputies to control the population.

He says a recent fight in an overcrowded block further proved the need for a jail expansion.

Although there are ways to reduce the population, Helder says an expansion will help with immediate relief.

“It’s just we’ve got to figure out how to get them out quicker,” Helder said. “We’ve got to figure out with the continued growth in our area, the continued rise in violent crime, we’ve got to create a space for that segment of our population in order for our community not only to feel safe but to be safe.”

The body cam video appears to show several inmates without beds and sleeping on the floor.

Steps are being taken to address the situation such as the jail ending its contract with Madison County to hold their inmates.

The Washington County Quorum Court recently approved funds for design work on an expansion. However, the work has yet to provide cost estimates on the project.

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