Feb 9, 2022 - News

Washington County jail expansion would cost around $20 million

Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

The Washington County Quorum Court now has a cost estimate to take into account for potential jail expansion plans.

Why it matters: The county is considering using American Rescue Plan Act money to fund the project, but first has to review if the jail expansion would qualify for appropriate use of the money, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Driving the news: An architect told the Quorum Court the expansion would cost about $20 million. The county received $46 million through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Details: The expansion would add 230 beds to the existing 710-bed facility, more intake area space and additional space for food storage and supplies, the newspaper reported.

Context: The Washington County Detention Center has a problem with overcrowding. The facility had a record 810 detainees in February 2020 and has since implemented strategies. These included lowering bail amounts and releasing some detainees who agreed to wear ankle monitors to mitigate the problem.

  • Detention center staff has blamed a recent uptick in fights and injuries on the overcrowding.

Flashback: The Quorum Court rejected a $38 million jail expansion plan back in 2019. It would have required voters to approve two separate sales taxes. But in August 2021, the court approved spending up to $250,000 on design work for an expansion.

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