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Washington County Update - July 30, 2023

Here’s what happened last week

➦ The Jobs Evaluation Salary Administration Program (JESAP) met on 7/24. Every item on the agenda passed on to either County Services or Finance & Budget.

➦ Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC) met on 7/27 after the CJCC Coordinator, Drew Smith, was no longer employed by the county.

We’ve been hopeful about the CJCC (even with the loss of the Coordinator). Here’s why:

  • The CJCC is moving forward with pretrial services and members discussed staffing, community partners, funding, assessments, and related matters.

  • To better assess the need for pretrial services, Sheriff Jay Cantrell will come back to the CJCC with an estimate of the cost to house an inmate in Washington County Detention Center.

  • Based on analysis conducted previously, we know it costs less to implement pretrial services to prevent incarceration, instead of warehousing people daily.

  • A 2020 inmate Cost Study conducted by the Arkansas Association of Counties sets the cost at $96.34 per day. (See P. 21)

We would like to get to a place where we can implement the 2019 WC QC Resolution that says no one should be in jail because they are too poor to buy their freedom due to their “inability to obtain pre-trial release through traditional bail/bond.”

As of 7/27 there were 780 people locked up in our jail (using the rate above) this is costing taxpayers $75K per day. Our jail is considered full at 650 people even though there are 710 beds. As you can see, our jail is consistently at or above capacity.

Not only is this inhumane. It’s bad business.

Upcoming Meetings & Events

WC QC COUNTY SERVICES COMMITTEE meets TODAY 7/31 @ 6 PM, Quorum Court Room, Washington County Courthouse. In person only meeting. Live stream here The full agenda includes the following:

a) A resolution by JP Kyle Lyons to support publication of ordinances, resolutions, and contracts. This should be an ordinance that requires publication, not just a resolution that suggests publication. This issue is too important to leave to anyone’s whim. I have no doubt that our current County Clerk will do this. She already is and she’s already included the cost in her 2024 budget, but it’s not enough to suggest and this shouldn’t be subject to one person’s whim.

b) An ordinance changing the county’s catastrophic leave policy. This ordinance starts on Page 15 of the above agenda. I sat through the discussion during JESAP, but these are major changes to our existing policy, and I still do not understand all of them and what impact they will have on our employees. I ask that county employees reach out to me with any concerns and/or questions so that we can work together to figure this out.

c) A resolution by me to support funding for the NWA Crisis Stabilization Unit.

We NEED Your Help!

  • Attend the County Services meeting Monday evening.

  • Mark your calendars now for Thursday 8/17 @ 6:00 PM for the August QC meeting where the ARPA ordinance and the ordinance to do away with Planning Board appeals to the QC will both be on the agenda. We need to pack the courtroom for that meeting and be prepared to speak out. It does make a difference when we have community members in the audience.

  • 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 Newsletters with your friends and neighbors!

STAY TUNED: I am working with Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition (AJRC) and former JP Eva Madison to host a “Mock Quorum Court” training event to acquaint community members with how meetings are conducted and how they can become informed and involved. No date has been set but hopefully sometime near the end of August.

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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