McDonald County Jail Expansion to Relieve Overcrowding - KOAM TV 7

McDonald County Jail Expansion to Relieve Overcrowding


Relief is on the way for the McDonald County jail, a facility that would've never housed 30 inmates on any given day 10 years ago. That's according to Sheriff Mike Hall. Last year, it had an average daily count of 44.
In a space where 16 inmates should be staying, sometimes more than 20 are grouped inside. There's no longer enough bed space and inmates have to sleep on mats and blankets on the floors. Over the past 4 years, the daily population of the McDonald County jail has increased by 8 to 10 people, creating challenges for the sheriff's office.
“We have more problems with fights especially if they don't, if people don't get along, because they don't get along on the outside,” says Sheriff Mike Hall.
“There’s been an assault on a corrections officer by an inmate who was trying to escape, it makes it a little harder to try and keep an eye on everybody and do your job,” says Johnny Arnette, a corrections officer.
Plans for an upgrade to the jail have been in the works for years. Construction is now underway to double the size of the jail, offering some relief to the overcrowding.
“With being able to separate people that have problems with each other different places and then just have more room just so that we won't have the issues between the inmates as it is,” says Sheriff Hall.
The building will be completely revamped, adding much needed space and enhancing the security system. But officials say the expansion may not be a solution to the bigger problem. If the trend of a growing population continues, they could end up in the same situation down the line.
“If this continues were not going to be able to house them efficiently, they'll be crowded again,” says Arnette.
A large reason for more inmates, drug crimes. A problem renovations can't solve.
“I’m not sure what the solution is. Just hope that we can find different programs or do things to stop, prevent, deter, something for some of these crimes,” Sheriff Hall.
The renovations are being funded by reserves and aren't costing taxpayers a dime. The expansion is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

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