When the decision was made by the Arkansas Jail Standards Board to close the Lawrence County Jail on Wednesday, Sheriff Dotson stated his first worry was about the employees of the jail. Dotson has made it a point that regardless of budget cuts over the years his first order of business was not to cut employees and he never has.
One other aspect of the shut down is the inmate work program and State 309 prisoner program. The 309 program consist of 4 state inmates that are housed at the jail, each with specific job capabilities. the state inmates prepare all the meals for the county inmates, assist with cleaning the courthouse including maintenance and also maintain the fleet of vehicles for the Sheriffâ€™s Office. During the shutdown, these inmates will be recalled by the Arkansas Department Of Corrections. The inmate work program has been a huge success for the Sheriffâ€™s Office benefitting many cities throughout the county, especially Hoxie and Walnut Ridge. These two cities pick up much needed workers for their Water Departments, Trash Trucks, Street Departments, etc. each day, this will also come to an end. Each time one of these programs end, those participating will incur expenses to fill the void. Others that have benefitted have been the Lawrence County Fair Grounds, Arkansas State Parks, Clover Bend Historical Society, City of Ravenden and countless communities where inmates have picked up trash along the roads.
It would be impossible to put a total cost on the amount of labor the work and 309 programs have contributed to Lawrence County.