Budget pressures on county jails
are well-known. Mara Leveritt provides some personalized insight from Little River County,
where inmates include Tim Howard,
whose capital case Leveritt has long followed.
By Howard's account, meal rations (supplied by an Ashdown hospital) have been cut and prisoners are having to make commissary purchases to supplement servings. Quorum Court minutes obtained by Leveritt confirm that cuts have been made. And that jail staffing is short. And that the building needs repairs. And, finally, that the jail is seeking donations of towels and boxer shorts
from inmate families, with the understanding those items will become county property.
The Quorum Court minutes provide a terse and telling look at the business of jail operation.
Times are tough everywhere in Arkansas. Jails are another service the public wants, but often doesn't want to pay for. Recently, an article in the Batesville
newspaper reported on how Independence County
was coping — letting prisoners rent their way out of confinement by paying for electronic monitors and reaping big savings from moving to more days of beans and cornbread
for prisoner meals.
….. If there's a touch of ham hock in those beans, that might not be so bad.
PS — A reader says I shouldn't joke about starvation rations for prison inmates. He's right.