December 16, 2015 Edition

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Board lifts county jail probation

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

A meeting with Arkansas Jail Standards last week brought good news for the jail operation in Lawrence County as the probation held on the current jail was revoked so it may be used until the new facility is built.

"Jail Standards has a job to do and they did it well," Sheriff Jeff Yates said. He added that they were very fair with the county throughout the probation process and because of them, the county was allowed enough time to develop a plan.

While a new county jail has been funded with the passing of a combined half-cent sales tax in November, the new facility is at least two years from completion.

According to Yates, the county has been approved to keep its current jail operational as long as the plan for the new jail remains on track.

The current jail must also remain as close to compliance as possible, including keeping up repairs made to the fire alarm and sprinkler systems since the jail was announced to close in August 2014.

However, inadequate cell space and square footage, which led to overcrowding, issues that could not be addressed without a new jail, were the main reasons why the jail was set to close. It is still uncertain what will happen with the current facilities once the new jail is operational, but until then Jail Standards has approved the county to keep it as a functioning jail.

"I appreciate the job Jail Standards has done working with us," Yates said. "They let us know something had to be done."

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