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Washington County Update - August 27, 2023

Here’s what happened last week:

➦ Finance & Budget meeting we reviewed sheriff’s budgets for 2024, which included over

$1.5M in increases for personnel. Last year’s salary increases haven’t helped much. Wanna learn more, read this and watch the full meeting here.

➦ I asked Sheriff Cantrell do away with or reducing medical copays for those incarcerated in our jail. It’s unethical for us to charge people to access medical care when they’re locked in jail because they don’t have the money to buy their freedom. Here’s more on that.

➦ Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee discussed, again, pretrial services, but no real action. After requests from the public, the CJCC meeting was recorded and can be viewed here.

➦ County Judge Deakins announced $300,000 in ERA2 funds was being distributed to five area nonprofits. This is not a new distribution of ERA funds.

This $300K represents a portion of the $1.7M ERA2 funds we appropriated in February to Excellerate for a housing project. For more information, read the back and forth exchange between JP Evelyn Rios Stafford and Judge Deakins. Thank you, JP Rios Stafford for helping us understand this.

Did you know? Our jail census set a “record” last week and not in a good way. As of last Tuesday, we had 833 people locked in our jail. Over 500 of those people are pre-trial meaning their bonds have been set, they have not been found guilty, and are to be presumed innocent, but are in jail because they are too poor to buy their freedom.

Compare that to July of 2020 when we averaged around 400 people daily in our jail. So what’s the big difference? July 2020 was right after Covid hit and all the stakeholders came together and worked to implement policy changes to get more people out of the jail. We did it then and we could do it now. Our community was safe with 400 people in jail in 2020 and we could be now.


Where we need YOU to show up this week!

JOBS EVALUATION SALARY ADMINISTRATION PROGRAM (JESAP) COMMITTEE, Monday, 8/28 @ 3:30 PM, Fifth Floor Conference Room. IN PERSON ONLY. These meetings are not live streamed, unfortunately. They should be.

  1. Here’s the agenda for JESAP.

  2. Several job position upgrades and salary increases will be discussed.

WASHINGTON COUNTY FINANCE & BUDGET COMMITTEE, Tuesday, 8/29 @ 6:00 PM, Quorum Courtroom, WC Courthouse. IN PERSON ONLY. This meeting should be live streamed here.

Here’s the agenda for F&B.

  1. You can study the entire budget proposals for 2024 here. Ongoing budget information such as this has never been made available to the public. I know because I’ve asked for it. Well, I have it now and I’m sharing it as it should be shared. I’d appreciate any comments or insights you want to share. Budgets are moral documents.


We NEED Your Help!

  • ATTEND the JESAP and Finance & Budget meetings!

  • Call Judge Deakins, Sheriff Cantrell (he’s on the CJCC) and as many Justices of the Peace as you can. Get to know them. Meet them for coffee. Tell them you want a real pretrial services program in Washington County.

  • Share this Newsletter with your friends and neighbors!

I welcome your questions and comments, also suggestions you have for any county related business. You can reach me at or text or call 479-306-9994.

Here’s the link to email addresses and telephone numbers for JPs, County Judge, and others.

See you at the courthouse!

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