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Washington County Update - June 25, 2023

What happened last week?

  • Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC) met on 6/22

  • The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act lawsuit I filed against the county was tried on 6/20

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC) hasn’t done much since County Judge Patrick Deakins spoke out against implementing a pretrial services program in January, even though we had an ordinance and job descriptions created already. No one on the CJCC has attempted to move it forward. We think it’s time to get this started. Here’s where you come in!

We need you to call Judge Patrick Deakins (479) 444-1700 and ask him these questions:

  • Why aren’t you assisting the CJCC in working to bring a real pretrial services program to Washington County?

  • Why are you not supporting (and even encouraging) pretrial services in Washington County?

  • What did you mean when you stated in January that you weren’t in favor of pretrial services?

Let’s back up a bit. You might be thinking, “wait Beth, why do we have a CJCC?” The CJCC was formed because a national study conducted by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to help with solutions for jail overcrowding. They said we would only need to expand our jail if we do nothing and nothing is what we’ve done. Talk about wasting county funds! That survey cost us, the taxpayers, $70,000. Read the full study here: 2020 Criminal Justice Assessment Study

Back to pretrial services, why is this important?

  • As of 6/14, we have 730 people locked in our jail.

  • 488 of those are pretrial, meaning they haven’t been convicted, but are in jail because they don’t have the money to buy their freedom.

  • 236 of those are there with bonds $25,000 and under.

Not only would a pretrial services program save Washington County money (costing $650,000 annually) saving us $4.5 to $5 million initially. Pretrial service programs, when done right and when properly funded and staffed, are already working in jurisdictions all around us and will work here.

Want more information on this? Check out the presentation Sarah Moore and I prepared earlier this year: click here.

Arkansas Freedom of Information Act lawsuit: Judge Mark Hewett took the matter under advisement and ordered both sides to submit written briefs to the court no later than 7/20. He will make a ruling shortly thereafter.

Upcoming Meetings & Events

Washington County Jobs Evaluation Salary Administration Program (JESAP) meets Monday, 6/26 @ 3:30 PM, 5th Floor Conference Room, Washington County Courthouse, Fayetteville, Arkansas. What’s on the agenda?

  • Several new 2023 budget additions

  • Pay grade changes and

  • A request from the County Judge to hire a Deputy County Attorney.

I’ll be at this meeting and would love to have you join me.

Washington County Election Commission meets Tuesday, 6/27 @ 9AM at the WC Road Department, 2615 South Brink Drive, Fayetteville, Arkansas. What’s on the agenda? These Election Commission meetings are important. They’re where we hear about processes and procedures, equipment, funding, and more for our elections and it’s good to get to know the commissioners, attend meetings and ask questions.

Special Quorum Court meeting Wednesday, 6/28 @ 8 AM at the WC Detention Center. The entire QC will take a road tour of 13 sites around the county. We will view bridges, infrastructure, and ongoing road work around the county. Please check out the stops we’ll be making and send me your questions! The county judge will be there, together with the road superintendent, so it should be easy to get answers.

Introduction to Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) meeting on Wednesday, 6/28 @ 7 PM, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 224 N East Avenue, Fayetteville, Arkansas. This meeting will be held by The Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition. Join us to learn more about FOIA.

The Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition’s monthly meeting will include a presentation and Q&A (led by me). We will discuss:

  • How to get information from governmental sources

  • How to write the request

  • What “public records” include

  • Exemptions to AFOIA, and much more.

Each attendee will get a booklet from the Arkansas Attorney General!

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.

See you at the courthouse!

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