Officials in Little River County, Arkansas are excited about bringing their inmates home and the financial savings for the county.
"I think it's a great day for the citizens of Little River County," Sheriff Gary Gregory says.
The first group of prisoners rolled into the renovated jail about 9:30 a.m. They were transferred from a Texarkana, Arkansas facility.
"And they will go back and get three more. And they will go back and get three more, because about three is what we can do at a time," Chad Akins, jail administrator, says.
The Little River County jail was closed more than three years ago because it did not meet standards set by the Arkansas Jail Commission.
That, plus voter rejection of a bond measure to fund a new jail, forced the county to house its inmates at other facilities at a cost of $500,000 a year.
The renovation project costs $1.3 million. The county got a $600,000 loan from a local bank to help in the cost. That
"We can go ahead and once again start keeping some of the money that was being spent on housing outside the county," Gregory says.
Family and friends of inmates also benefit from the county reopening its facility, Gregory says, because they will no longer have to travel out of the county to visit.
Inmate Charles Merrill agrees.
"Well, it is better. Maybe my wife can come and see me. And if my wife or family is watching, I love them all and come and see me."
The renovated facility is designed to hold 24 male prisoners and, according to county leaders, if someday a larger facility is built, this jail will turn into a juvenile facility.
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