SWAR sheriff says state inmates costing county jails too much - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SWAR sheriff says state inmates costing county jails too much

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HEMPSTEAD COUNTY, AR (KSLA) -

The Arkansas Sheriff's Association wants something done about counties having to house state inmates.

Currently the counties are receiving just over $28 a day per inmate but the association said that is not enough.

At the Hempstead County Detention Center in Hope, AR, more than 50 percent of inmates in a 100- bed facility are prisoners for the state's department of corrections, according to Sheriff James Singleton.

"They are kind of using us I think as a prison when we are not designed to be a prison. We are designed to be a county jail," he said.

And the sheriff says this is adding an additional expense to the county.

Rodolfo Martinez has been sentenced to 25 years in a state prison for rape, but Singleton said they have been waiting to transfer Martinez to a state prison since January.

This past weekend, Martinez destroyed security cameras and broke several windows at the jail, causing more than $8,000 worth of damage.

"There is no cost for reimbursement for damages and things like that so that has to come out of our operating budget," Singleton said.

County jails also have to foot the medical cost for the state prisoners and that is why the Arkansas Sheriff's Association said the $28 per day reimbursement is not enough.

"We are working on the state level to make sure we got the appropriate appropriation out there to reimburse these counties," said Brent Talley, Arkansas state representative.

Talley said legislators are aware of this problem and are working to bring some relief to jails like the one in Hempstead County.

"One of the committees I serve with has been meeting with the department of corrections and parole folks in Arkansas and looking through policy, going over policy to see if there are some tweaks we need to make to our state policies," he said.

Talley said in fiscal year 2015 there should be an additional 300 beds added to the state prison system, but Singleton said the problem will still be there.

"We may have to manage our jail a little bit better and release some misdemeanor inmates, but we are not going to release any felonies," he said.

The ASA said there are more than 2,700 state inmates in county jails waiting for space in state facilities.

Copyright 2014 KSLA. All rights reserved.

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