MALVERN, Ark. — Inmates at the Hot Spring County Jail are being shipped out to other facilities. Why it’s happening can be as simply explained as election shuffling.
Scott Finkbeiner will be the new Sheriff for Hot Spring County starting on January first, and his plans of bringing in a new team had some unintended side effects.
At the start of December, Justice of the Peace for District 8 Andrew Daily was getting troubling calls from constituents.
“They’d heard the jail had been shut down,” he stated.
Daily called Sheriff-elect Scott Finkbeiner to discover what was truly going on and learned Finkbeiner told the jail’s administrator when he becomes the new Sheriff there would not be a place for him, but that had a ripple effect on the 50-bed jail.
According to Finkbeiner, “We lost about seven jailors.”
Daily added, “We weren’t really prepared for the exodus that happened.”
The jail no longer had enough staff to watch detainees 24 hours a day, and a decision had to be made for safety on both sides of the bars.
Daily said, “Releasing them out on the street is not the right answer, so we’re having to look for other places to house them.”
Other jails outside of Hot Spring County are now housing anyone arrested and waiting longer than one night for a court hearing. Each bed is costing the county more than they are budgeted.
Female inmates were already being held outside the county. Sheriff-Elect Finkbeiner said once he is in office, he will have to present a budget adjustment to the Justices of the Peace who just submitted a final budget on December 13.
Sheriff-Elect Finkbeiner explained why he told the Chief Jailor he would be replaced so early on at the end of November. He said, “One of the things we tried to work on since the beginning is making sure that we can notify people as fast as possible because I don’t want anybody waiting at Christmas time and finding out they don’t have a position come January.”
The jail is still being used to process inmates initially before they go elsewhere. Finkbeiner said some are driven all the way back for court hearings while others attend virtually.
Finkbeiner hopes to have the jail back to normal operation before January 14. In the meantime, it will be painted, undergo a plumbing project, and be used for training.
“We’re kind of treating it as a cup half-full kind of situation,” Daily explained. “We’re going to use it to the best of our advantage.”
Our station attempted to reach out to current Hot Spring County Sheriff Mike Cash multiple times Monday, but he has not gotten back to us.