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Garland County plans new jail | News

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Garland County plans new jail

HOT SPRINGS, Ark (KTHV) -- The Garland County Sheriff's Department has announced they will resume the use of inmate ankle bracelets to reduce jail overcrowding and inmate costs.

The GCSD formerly used the system but discontinued it in late 2011. The budget for 2012 has made room for its use, in addition to the new jail construction already planned.

County Judge Rick Davis says officials began planning for a new jail a year and a half ago. It's been a long drawn out process, but it's getting closer.

"This is not as simple as everybody thinks, we hope to see something by end of summer. And we hope that it's complete by 2015!" says Davis.

The current facility was built to hold 88 inmates but they average 200. Davis says they know future capacity may be even more demanding.

He says, "We bought 55 acres which is something in the future we might be able to use as a county complex besides just a jail."

Besides more space and new cells, they're making changes to patrols. 

Davis says, "We're going with a different type of jail which is "Direct Supervision" which means there will be officers in the dorm rooms with the prisoners. And that's something different for Arkansas."

Wednesday, four architect companies will present their bids to county officials and negotiations will begin on a jail planned to hold 476 inmates. 

Davis says "It will also be easy to expand because of the property we're buying. And we can go a lot larger than that if we need to."

Lt. James Martin with the Garland County Sheriff's Department says they are bringing back the inmate ankle bracelet system which uses GPS to keep track of inmates let out early, but with restrictions on where they can go.

The new jail will be funded by a 1-cent tax increase passed last October.