FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark.- Jails across the state constantly feel the pinch of overcrowding, but for some, COVID-19 has brought relief in the ongoing and costly issue.
One facility is seeing record lows and using this time to its advantage.
“Unit 1 had a total of 128 people, and their capacity is 118,” says Lt. Erinn Stone with the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office.
A typically packed jailhouse in Faulkner County has now dropped to record lows.
“I can’t even tell you the last time,” says Stone. “I’ve been here for 9 and a half years, and I can’t even remember the last time it looked like that. This morning, I ran the report and we had 175 in both facilities.”
Over the phone, Lt. Stone says for the first time in over a decade, overcrowding isn’t an issue.
“Honestly, COVID-19, we have had to with the low numbers. We have worked hard to not bring the pandemic into our jail,” Lt. Stone says.
It’s also helped them save some cash by putting a costly and underfunded expansion plan on hold.
“It’s not something we are going to have to fight for a little while,” says Stone.
The pandemic has the department working to find new ways to reduce intake, like utilizing a criminal justice coordinating committee and taking advantage of a GED instead of time served program.
These are methods Stone hopes will continue to work even once court systems are back up and running.
“It is something that we would like to see where we can keep the low numbers and the safety of everybody,” Stone says.