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Craighead County JPs visit detention center

The Craighead County Quorum Court toured the county’s detention center with Sheriff Marty Boyd and Assistant Administrator Todd Harrell after the regular meeting of the Quorum Court on Monday.

The tour came after Justices of the Peace heard a second reading for an ordinance that would ask voters in November to approve issuing $105-million dollars in capital improvement bonds to go toward improvements to the jail. The county would then levy a half-cent sales tax until the bond is paid off.

According to the ordinance, the $105 million is “to finance all or a portion of the costs of various improvements, renovations, and expansions to the Craighead County Detention Center.”

“I can’t promise this, but I think if we built a new construction project that could house even double what we have today, we could run it with the same manpower we have now,” Boyd said.

Boyd mentioned the importance of showing the jail's condition and the need for additional staff if the jail was expanded due to the floor plan.

“If we did an expansion project we would need a 15 plus percentage of manpower,” Boyd said.

Boyd said he felt like building new would be better for the county in the future. He said the current facility has been outgrown.

Boyd emphasized during the tour that rooms originally intended for sobering cells, a holding cell to sober after being under the influence, had been repurposed into general holding spaces. He also noted storage rooms had been transformed into offices and bathrooms.

“We use everything available,” Boyd said about the converted spaces.

The tour also visited cellblock wings to view overcrowding. The facility was built in 1990 to accommodate 130 inmates; the jail now houses over 400.

The ordinance to add the 0.5% sales tax to the November 5 ballot must go through one more reading before the JP’s vote on the issue. The next meeting is July 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the Craighead County Courthouse Annex basement.

A 2019 graduate of Sheridan High School, Robinson graduated from A-State with a degree in multimedia journalism in December 2023. In January 2021, while working toward her degree, she was named sports editor for The Herald, A-State’s student-run newspaper.