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Cleburne County plans jail meetings

by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | July 10, 2022 at 2:10 a.m.

The Cleburne County sheriff’s office has created a “Public Safety Assessment Committee” comprised of community members who will hold a series of public meetings on what to do about the county jail.

Each of the meetings — excluding jail tour meetings — will include a short period of time for the public to ask questions, said Cleburne County Sheriff Chris Brown.

“The committee will have the opportunity hear from state officials, sheriff’s office and jail officials, tour our jail as well as others, look at cost evaluations and more,” said Brown, who’s been the sheriff since 2017, in a news release.

“At their conclusion, they will provide a recommendation to the County for what the future of the jail should look like (in terms of closing the current facility, renovating the existing building, or constructing a new building).” The first meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Heber Springs Community Center, 201 Bobbie Jean Lane, Heber Springs.

The jail at 914 S. 9th St., Heber Springs, opened in 1979. An addition opened in 2005.

Since 2012, Brown said there have been regular issues with the physical condition of the building. At one point, the Cleburne County Quorum Court created a committee to start working on solutions, and in 2019 the sheriff’s office formed and recommended a new housing plan to bring the jail back into compliance with state standards, Brown said.

Information about the 2019 plan and a description of some of the building’s issues are available at https://bit.ly/3bUwTwF.

“In terms of operations since 2019, the jail has been running as well as it can, complying with state standards, despite the physical building continuing to degrade and hinder operations,” Brown said, adding that, “In response to the continuing failures in the physical building and the limitations on actually holding people in jail,” the sheriff’s office formed the Public Safety Assessment Committee, which is comprised of community members from all over Cleburne County.

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