LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Pulaski County Sheriff’s office has confirmed that the county jail is using padlocks inside the facility for “safety” reasons.
Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins said it’s not something he wants to do but has to for safety reasons. He said the locking system inside the Pulaski County Jail is outdated and has needed an upgrade since before he was sheriff.
“If I had my way, it should’ve been done a long time ago,” Higgins said.
It’s to the point where inmates can pop a lock and come out of the individual cells. Higgins said people are still compromising the locks even though they have the temporary system in place.
“We have deputies in the unit with the keys for those padlocks and they’re able to open all those locks,” Higgins said. “It’s not like a handful of keys, they’re all keyed the same in that unit so we can quickly get people out if that is necessary.”
They’ve been working on replacing those locks after getting approval from the quorum court in February for $1.2 million toward this project specifically.
It’s a process, though, and it takes about three weeks to do each unit, Higgins said. He said he knows there are people with concerns about this.
“We’re trying to ensure there is safety, that’s one of the reasons having to put the padlocks on because if someone can come out of a cell and assault someone else or a deputy — that’s an issue,” Higgins said.
Higgins said they just received new locks in August, and so far four units are done. When they put the new locks on they won’t use the padlocks anymore.
“It’s a stop-gap, they’re not going to be there forever,” Higgins said.
Another thing that also makes this process harder is the pandemic. When it comes to COVID-19 cases and the isolation units you can’t always move those people because they have to quarantine.
Higgins said all the locks won’t be done being replaced until next Spring.