By Lisa Kopochinski
ASHDOWN, Ark.—Construction is underway on the new $8.5 million Little River County Detention Center in Ashdown.
Voters approved a bond in September 2019 to finance the new building and a sales tax to help pay for it. The new tax went into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
The new jail will be located on U.S. Highway 71 on the north side of Ashdown, near Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas.
The Southbuild Team—which includes Spirit Architecture Group and Smith-Doyle Contractors—are building the detention center.
The current jail, located downtown next to the Little River County Courthouse, holds a maximum of 24 inmates. As a result, the Sheriff’s Office often houses inmates in other county jails, which leads to higher costs in housing and transportation, as well as lower felony bonds.
For nearly 15 years, leaders in Little River County have tried to get a new jail to house county inmates. The present facilities are not up to standard. As a result, the Arkansas Jail Commission has threatened to close the facility down.
“There are times in the summer that I will have inmates in up to seven different counties,” said Sheriff Bobby Walraven, in a statement. “We will be able to house them here and it will not be a burden on transporting and things of that nature.”
Added Judge Cranford, “[This project] shows the citizens have faith in what we are trying to do and we want to make sure we give them the type of facility they deserve.”
Crews are currently subgrading the property. When completed by Spring 2022, the facility will allow the county to increase bed space from 24 to 84 inmates.