IMG_1667.JPGJudge Dale Freeman proposed to the Lawrence County Quorum Court a concept for a Regional Jail Facility that would create jobs and not cost the tax payers in the county. Judge Freeman proposed to the Quorum Court that the county enter into agreement with the State of Arkansas to house non-violent offenders and county inmates in the facility. According to Judge Freeman after a meeting in Little Rock last week the proposed Regional Facility came to light. The Lawrence County Quorum Court and Jail Committee along with Sheriff Yates and Chief Deputy Tony Waldrupe were present at tonight’s meting when the agreement was voted by the Quorum Court members unanimously.
 
According to Arkansas Legislature, the Arkansas Department of Corrections can enter into an agreement to contact with the county to build regional jails to house state inmates along with county inmates. Instead of a sales tax, the county would sell bonds to build and maintain the facility. The jail would be owned, maintained and managed by the county with the Judge and Quorum Court overseeing the finances and the Sheriff being the administrator of the facility. According to the Judge, the facility would not only save the state money on inmates housed at the facility, it would repay the bonds sold and create more jobs for the county. According to a report passed out during the meeting, the Arkansas Department of Corrections is leaning more toward these regional facilities rather than the larger prison to not only ease overcrowding but help counties that are in need of a new facility.
 
The process began tonight with the passing of a resolution, the next step is for the state to authorize the county for the facility. According to County Judge Dale Freeman, Lawrence County is in the front running for the facility. The authorization would allow for a 300 bed facility to be built with the state guarantee of filling at least 80% of the facility. The selling of bonds to pay for the construction of the jail requires no new taxes. 100% of the money received from the state contracted inmates would be used by the Quorum Court to pay down the debt, no other use of the money can be authorized to fund any other county needs. 
 
Judge Freeman stated that even though Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp was absent for the meeting, he stated the mayor supported the facility. Mayor Bonnie Ragsdale of Black Rock was present, Ragsdale is a member of the Jail Committee formed by Judge Freeman. Mayor Ragsdale who supported the jail being constructed on the now vacant Black Rock School campus was asked by Judge Freeman her opinion, Ragsdale stated the she supported the regional jail because it was best for Lawrence County. Mayor Ragsdale went on to say that the community has another business with a promising interest in the Black Rock campus.
 
When asked about the location of the proposed jail, Freeman said the property already owned by the county was a great asset in securing the project.  Judge Freeman also noted that time was a big concern in this matter stating that the proposal needed to be completed and sent back to Little Rock as soon as possible.