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Pulaski County only jailing worst offenders | Crime

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Pulaski County only jailing worst offenders
Crime, News
Pulaski County only jailing worst offenders

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A backlog of state inmates is jamming county jails across Arkansas, meaning only the most serious offenders are spending time behind bars.

The Pulaski County jail closed on April 29th, and since then it has taken in only the most serious violent criminals and repeat offenders. Pulaski County prosecutor Larry Jegley calls it "catch-and-release" law enforcement where even burglars arrested for breaking into people's homes are being turned loose, and there's no sign of that changing anytime soon.

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"I don't see any short-term solution quite honestly," said Jegley. "We are issuing the equivalent of traffic tickets to serious felony offenders… That's what it's come to in what's come to be known at 'catch-and-release' out on the streets with our law enforcement officers."

The reason is a proverbial traffic jam of prisoners in the system. Pulaski County sheriff Doc Holladay says the state is over capacity by more than 700 prisoners in its own system, not to mention the close to 2,500 state prisoners currently housed in county jails across the state.

"I can tell you there are a lot of frustrated sheriff's across the state," said Holladay. "We have plenty of jail beds in this facility for this county, the problem is that we're holding so many inmates that should not be here because they are, in actuality, the property of another government agency and we can't get rid of them."

"We're overcrowded, they're overcrowded," added Holladay. "I have to be concerned about my budget but, more importantly, I have to be concerned about the well-being of my employees and the inmates… I would rather have the bed than the $28 a day that the state reimburses us, I would much rather have the bed."

"We are releasing a lot of people who are being arrested by the guys in blue out on the streets because there's no place to house them while we try to figure out what's going on with them and what do we need to do with them," said Jegley. "If people are really serious about wanting to get crime in this community under control we've got to get more jail beds because we've got to have the flexibility of locking people up who we are afraid of, people who will not abide by the rules the rest of us will."

But Holladay contended that the current jail is adequate as long as the state takes over responsibility of its own inmates.

"The problem is not that we need more beds," said Holladay. "We have plenty of beds if we didn't have this backlog of state inmates in this facility."

"I think that we better look really seriously at how committed we are to getting the crime problem under control," added Jegley. "There's not money available within the parameters of what we are taking in right now to do anything about that jail other than hold our own."

Crime, News