Citing a smooth operation within the local judicial system, Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson said the local jail has been able to avoid overcrowding — a problem many other county or municipal jails have been dealing with in light of a recently passed law.
Passed earlier this year, the state law requires jails to hold those accused of violating parole until a revocation hearing can be held.
The policy enacted mandates that any parolee awaiting a parole revocation hearing must remain locked up until that hearing, according to The Associated Press. The changes also call for the detention of any parolee who fails to report to a parole officer two or more times, as well as any parolee charged with a felony or violent misdemeanor. The policy says the parolee must stay jailed until a hearing is held on whether parole should be revoked.
The law was passed in response to a repeat parole absconder who was arrested for capital murder, leaving many wondering why he was out on parole at all, AP reported.
The tougher policies are limiting bed space at state prisons, forcing many jails to find a place to keep them until the Arkansas Department of Correction can find space. The AP reported the state had nearly 17,000 people in custody, including more than 2,100 in county jails awaiting a bed in prison. As of this week, Watson said the Clark County Detention Center had "maybe two" inmates awaiting a cell at ADC. "We are not experiencing any overcrowding," Watson said of Clark County's 49-bed facility.
The reason Clark County isn't experiencing what most other counties are: "Our court system," Watson said. "We have a good working relationship with our judges and prosecutors. They stay on top of the jail log and work hard to stay on top of it so we don't have a backlog." In an interview with Watson earlier this week, he pointed out that there were no absconders awaiting a revocation hearing, because Circuit Judge Robert McCallum and District Judge Randy Hill hold revocation hearings "almost on a daily basis."