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Too Many Inmates

VIOLENT INCIDENTS IN JAIL QUADRUPLED IN 2013

Posted: February 16, 2014 at 5 a.m.

Inmates spend time in dayroom Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 at the Washington County Jail in Fayetteville. The jail is overcrowded in certain pods which has made it more dangerous. Overcrowding in pods forces some inmates to sleep on extra mats on the floor.

FAYETTEVILLE — It was 9 p.m. one Friday in December, and an inmate at the Washington County jail was cornered by two other men in his cell. Until 1 p.m. the next day, the pair beat, tortured and raped the inmate while a fourth watched, doing so off-and-on to avoid detection, investigators say. All four had been in altercations with other inmates or officers and were already segregated from most others. But there wasn’t enough room to separate them from each other, Sheriff Tim Helder said last week.

FAST FACTS

WASHINGTON COUNTY DETENTION CENTER

The jail holds pretrial and convicted inmates from all cities in the county.

After conviction, prisoners wait in the jail to be transferred to a state prison.

State prisons have no room to accept those inmates, so a backlog accumulates.

New statistics validate warnings that overcrowding makes the jail more dangerous and pushes the department over budget.

The Arkansas Department of Correction is pushing the legislature during the fiscal session to give it more money to fix these problems.

SOURCE: STAFF REPORT

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