Garland Co. Judge: New jail will prevent escapes

    10:41 PM, Jul 30, 2013   |    comments
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    HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - Derrick Estell's jailbreak is the first escape the Garland County judge said they've had in a long time, and with a new jail under construction, he hopes it will be the last.

    Garland County approved a one cent sales tax back in 2011 to fund a brand new detention center; one county judge Rick Davis believes can't be finished soon enough.
    "It's like a revolving door. The court system works with the sheriff everyday to figure out who we can release," said Davis.

    Overcrowded and understaffed are two factors Garland County Judge Rick Davis believes could have played a role in a jail inmate's escape Sunday afternoon.

    "We have too many inmates for the number of staff we have. When you don't have enough people to address the situation, I'm sure it has a lot to do with that. There is no doubt in my mind," explained Davis.

    The Garland County Jail, built in 1986, was made to house only 88 inmates, but on a daily basis, they average more than 200 inmates. They hope to have the new facility built by the end of next year will hold more than 400 inmates.

    Davis added that the new 156,000 square foot jail will be a state-of-the-art facility with security being the number one priority.

    "It's going to have all the updated stuff as far as the monitoring system, the hardened facility area. One of the biggest security things I would say is that it's going to be staffed properly," said Davis. "It's been difficult for the sheriff's department. I think they are trying to do a good job the best they can."

    Since Estell's escape, the Garland County Detention Center has made a few temporary changes to that information window, making the opening to the lobby only a few inches wide. They hope the changes will also prevent other escapes like Estell's.

    The new Garland County Jail is expected to cost an estimated $42 million.

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