After last Wednesday’s vote by the Arkansas Jail Standards Committee to close the Lawrence County Jail, Sheriff Dotson and his staff were faced with some hard choices. Not only did the sheriff have the 37 inmates that were in the jail to relocate but also the future of his jail staff.

Dotson, Judge Freeman and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel began researching information concerning the shut down and discovered that the commission could recommend the closing but could not demand it by September 17th as the committee had told him. McDaniel’s office discovered that if there were no safety issues then the Sheriff, County Judge and Quorum Court had 6 months to either make the changes or have a plan of action to build a new facility.

An inspection of the jail one week earlier by the State Fire Marshall had revealed that the Fire Sprinkler and Alarm System were out of date and non-functional, these were the only safety violations to the jail. Dotson said that Jail Administrator Debbie Burleson contacted several contractor out of Memphis and had a crew in the jail over the Labor Day weekend, both the Sprinkler and the Alarm Systems have been fixed and are operational before the deadline of September 1st set forth by the Arkansas State Fire Marshall.

According to Sheriff Dotson, the jail situation is far from being over. Sheriff Dotson also stated that late last week he met with all the Police Chiefs from around the county who also use the jail and explained the current crisis, Dotson stated all were understanding and offered the help and support of their departments.

The special meeting of the Lawrence County Quorum Court is still scheduled for September 4th, members of the Arkansas Jail Standards Board are expected to be in attendance to answer any questions that the members of the Quorum Court may have.

We will continue to update this story as information is released. For more information on the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, visit www.lawrencecountysheriffsoffice.com .

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