Randolph County jail expansion expected to start this month

Will Nearly Triple Capacity Along with Adding a Female Unit

POCAHONTAS, Ark. – Randolph County Sheriff Gary Tribble is winding down his record-setting tenure as sheriff in 2018 but before he begins a new chapter in life, he will be very pleased to see the beginnings of the expansion of the Randolph County Jail, he expressed to NEA Report on Monday morning.

“I wish I could be honest and say we won’t see an increase in jail population, but we will,” Tribble said.

The out-going sheriff of Randolph County, who chose not to run for reelection in 2018, said the jail expansion should officially begin toward the end of June. Vehicle parking and other adjustments have already been made to accommodate the construction crews who will be expanding the jail. The expansion will over-double the capacity for male inmates while adding its first female inmate beds since the jail was built.

Undated photo taken by Stan Morris | NEA Report.

Built in 1999, Tribble said the jail presently holds 34 male inmates. Once the expansion is completed, 40 new male beds will bring the total to a 74 male inmate capacity. 20 female inmate beds will also be constructed, which will be the first female beds at the jail. The jail will go from 34 beds to 94 beds by the time the work is completed, based on what Tribble said.

He explained that all during his time as a law enforcement officer since the 1980s, the numbers of inmates has steadily risen. We asked him what most of those incarcerated in Randolph County were behind bars for. Tribble said most in jail in his county were there for drugs. Specifically, methamphetamine arrests were what he said contributed the most inmates to the jail. Tribble said most of the meth problems were created inside of the county until pseudo-ephedrine restrictions were put into place. Since then, he feels most of the meth being dealt and sold in Randolph County comes from traffickers.

While the jail expansion will add a number of beds, it will also add female beds for the first time. Tribble said this will reduce the cost of housing inmates in outside counties. One example the sheriff gave was with Piggott charging $35 a day to house a female inmate for Randolph County. Tribble said he calculates his county can do it at $4.80 a day. Not only will it save money for him but it will prevent his deputies from transporting inmates as often, which he described as a safety issue.

Voters approved a re-appropriation of 1 mil in 2015 to long-term financing for the jail expansion. It was estimated the county spent $100,000 on transporting and housing prisoners outside of the county in 2014, the year before voters approved the jail expansion.

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