October 29, 2014 Edition

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County focus to remain on jail

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

After the Lawrence County Quorum Court voted to proceed with an application for a $100 million maximum-security prison in August, County Judge Dale Freeman opted to not submit an application by the Oct. 24 deadline.

During his research, Freeman was told by state senators and representatives that the county had inadequate population and housing to sustain a prison of this size. Freeman was told that the county didn't even have enough housing for those who would be brought in during the building process.

"They told me there was no chance of Lawrence County getting selected," Freeman said. He added that the Arkansas Department of Corrections is still seeking funding on a state level and the legislature has stated that the application requests were sent out before it was even brought to them.

"I just felt my time would be better spent on something else," said Freeman.

Shortly after the vote was taken to submit an application, the Arkansas Jail Standards Committee voted to close the Lawrence County Jail. Freeman said he'd rather spend his time working on a solution for the county jail than on an application for something the county would most likely not get, especially since the state prison wouldn't be complete for another eight to 10 years should it get funded.

He said the jail committee is scheduled to look at the Greene County Jail this week and research will continue to find the most affordable option for the county. A sales tax will be required to fund a new jail but Freeman said before he even considers asking for one, he is going to exhaust every possible option.

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