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Regional jail will be an issue for City Council

While the November ballot drew the most action at the July 7 meeting of the Maumelle City Council, it wasn’t what Mayor Mike Watson was expecting.

Instead, Watson thought going into the meeting that the discussion of an agreement with Pulaski County on the regional detention facility, the last item on the agenda, would be the one that dominated the proceedings.

Now, the proposal moves on to the next meeting of the Council this coming Monday and Watson thought Tuesday it would be on the agenda, again.

“We have received a revised agreement from [Pulaski County] Judge [Buddy] Villines that has reduced the term from 10 to five years,” Watson wrote in an e-mail, “and has tied the annual increases to the [Consumer Price Index] with a maximum of 3 percent.

Watson added that Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola and his staff had been working on revisions.

“The revised agreement was to be delivered to [Villines on Monday] as I understood it,” Watson said. He added that the information would be in the Council agenda that goes later this week.

Regardless, Watson said, that of the two options that had been previously presented, a flat amount in the $50,000 a year range was a far better deal than paying per prisoner, where the cost would then double to nearly $100,000 annually for Maumelle.

“That’s taking too much of a chance,” Watson said.

At the last Council meeting, Watson noted that bed space was at premium at the jail as the county was hosting both state and federal prisoners.

The state prisoners are costing the county money; while the federal prisoners “are moneymakers” but the end result is that those arrested in Maumelle and around the county aren’t very likely to go to jail.

“Assuming their open,” Maumelle Police Chief Sam Williams said, “and they aren’t always open, but even then, our misdemeanants aren’t going to jail.”

Misdemeanants are those people charged with misdemeanors as opposed to those charged with felonies, or more serious crimes.

Indeed, of the eight people arrested in this week’s Crime Watch feature, four were charges with misdemeanors and cited and released with a court date, one was charged with a felony and released with a court date, while two were turned over to other police departments on warrants while one felony arrest, who had a gun in his possession, was taken to jail.

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