OVERFLOWING: Pulaski County Regional Detention Center
Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay said today that the overcrowding situation at the Pulaski County Regional Detention Center
is at a crisis level
, with the spiraling population — spurred on by changes in the state parole system — spreading employees thin, blowing budgets and putting his officers in danger. He plans to brief local law enforcement officials who utilize the jail on the issue Thursday, but said that he might have to begin turning away all but suspects in violent crimes
in "a week or two" if a solution isn't reached soon.
You can read more about the issue, including highlights from our interview with Holladay today, on the jump...
According to a release issued by Holladay's office this morning, the PCRDC population as of today was 1,298 inmates, including 447 inmates being held on state charges such as parole and probation violations and those waiting for a bed in the ADC. The facility is funded for a maximum of 1,210 inmates, but has been north of that number every day since Oct. 1. October, Holladay said, was the first month that the jail's daily average population exceeded the funding cap. For November, the daily population has averaged 1,262.
"The reason for it seems to be our issues with the state," Holladay said. "We're hopeful we can get some help from the state pretty quickly in reducing this backlog, because it's impacting how we're able to provide service to the law enforcement agencies and the citizens of Pulaski County." Last month, we ran a cover story about possible solutions to problems in the parole system.
Holladay said that overcrowding is already impacting his budget for food, medical and overtime pay, including being forced to bring in more bunks and buy more mattresses. He said that overcrowding beyond the approved staffing and budget opens the door for security problems, including outbreaks of violence that could harm officers and inmates.
"If we don't get some relief, and the inmates are still being left at our facility after they've been convicted or they've been revoked, it could lead to us having to close the facility and limit who we hold," Holladay said. "That's what I'm trying to avoid... I just feel like I have an obligation to law enforcement and to the citizens of Pulaski County to hold whoever [police] arrest and who they want held. But I also have to take into account our existing capacity at the time and our ability to manage that population."
Holladay said he spoke with the police chiefs of Little Rock and North Little Rock on the situation today, and said the jail is monitoring the population in the morning and afternoon. He said that though he wants to hold out on closing the facility for as long as he can, but adds that if the solutions aren't reached to curb the influx of state inmates soon, Holladay said: "I'm not going to be able to hold out, I would say, more than a week or two at this point."
Holladay, however, understands that the problem isn't one with an easy fix. "I don't see a quick solution," he said. "I know the state is working on some ideas regarding electronic monitoring and hiring more parole officers to manage the parolees. But in the meantime, perhaps the people that are suffering the most are the larger counties around the state. Because we have the largest jail, it's a particular problem for us."