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Contract to house state inmates at proposed for-profit jail in state OK'd

by John Moritz | September 26, 2019 at 12:33 p.m.

PINE BLUFF — The Arkansas Board of Correction on Thursday approved a 20-year contract to house as many as 500 state inmates at a proposed for-profit jail facility in southeast Arkansas.

The “on again, off again” discussions to build the lockup — to be operated by Louisiana-based LaSalle Corrections — have been going on for several years, said board Chairman Benny Magness.

Magness presented the contract as an opportunity to move more than 300 state inmates housed at the LaSalle-operated Bowie County jail in Texas back into Arkansas, while also relieving some bed space at the state's overcrowded prisons.

No private adult lockups have operated in Arkansas since 2001, when the last private contractor left the state amid concerns about staffing and conditions at its prisons.

The proposed facility, however, was drawn up by two local counties that have sought to contract with a private provider to find space to house their own local offenders awaiting trial.

The Arkansas Department of Correction agreed to contract directly with the counties, Drew and Bradley.

In turn, those counties plan to contract with LaSalle, Magness said, though they have yet to reach a formal agreement.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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