Q & A with Sheriff J.R. Smith
Frequently asked questions of the Sheriff
Q1. Why do people get right out of jail after they are booked in?
A1. A person is protected by the 8th amendment of the Constitution (https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-viii). It states a person is presumed innocent and has a right to post bond.
Q2. How is a suspect able to post a bond when we know they don't have enough money?
A2. Depending on the bondsman the suspect can put up property for collateral or enter into a financing plan with the bondsman where the 10% is not required in full up front. If the bond is a cash bond on a Felony offense the full cash amount is due at the time of release.
Q3. Why does the County have to pay medical bill's on inmates?
A3. When a suspect is incarcerated in our facility we as a county jail have the responsibility to pay medical expenses while incarcerated. We have recently entered into a contract where we pay a set monthly fee for a medical team to come to our facility to treat inmates which drastically reduces the expenses associated with Doctor's Office visits. This reduces manpower hours, fuel and time where we have to pay employees to transport to and from a medical facility.
Q4.Why were you over budget like I read in the newspaper?
A4.Contrary to what is being said the budget for the Sheriff's Office was not over in a whole, only on a couple of line items where there was unexpected expenses. The Sheriff's Office was under budget for the 2017 year. This is a matter of public record and can be viewed at the Cross County Courthouse.
Q5. Why do you release inmates on their own recognizance?
A5. This is not a process that is used frequently but usually the reason is the suspects has a mental disorder or they are severely ill. In these cases the subject is better suited to be in an adequate facility that can give the care they need. In these cases the suspect signs a "Citation to Appear" stating they will return to court to address their charges. On Felony cases this process is approved by the Prosecutor or Circuit Judge.
Q6. Why do you not send people to prison?
A6. Our function at the Sheriff's Office is to arrest and charge the individuals. We do not have the authority to set bonds, make judgements in cases or sentence anyone. The Circuit/District Court Judges and Prosecutors are tasked with that responsibility. Also ACT 570 passed by the State Legislator limits sentencing terms for convicted individuals due to overcrowding in the State Prison system. I was against Act 570 when it was passed and am currently still against it. My opinion is like the old saying "Do the crime do the time". http://adc.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/ACT_570_Impact_Tracking.pdf
Q7. Why do you not post all arrests on your website and Facebook page.
A7. We only post press releases on our agencies arrests, however all arrest's booked into our jail are posted on our inmate roster.
Q8. Why are some photo's not available on the jail roster?
A8. The website is a courtesy for the public. Many jails across the State of Arkansas and the United States don't have this capability. We are working with the website company and our jail booking software provider as some of the photo's take a while to post through the server. Some of the photo's have to be entered manually after they do not post properly through the server. In some instances the inmate it uncooperative and refuses to photograph and fingerprint which results in additional charges.
Q9. Why do you hold inmates for other agencies for free?
A9. We do not hold inmates for other agencies for free. Agencies are charged $45.00 a day per inmate and they are responsible for the medical care. Since we have been holding inmates for Phillips County since 2013 we have generated approx. $900,000.00 in revenue for the County General Fund. That total is not counting funds from the State and surrounding agencies.
Q10. How many inmates does your Jail hold?
A10. We can hold a total of 86 inmates when we are fully operational. That is broke down into holding 8 females, 24 males for misdemeanor charges, 7 - 309 State prison trustee inmates as well as State inmates awaiting space in the State Prison system. We have an average of 72 inmates at any given time.
Q11. What is the condition of the jail?
A11. The jail is in working condition but requires maintenance on a daily basis. The plumbing is so outdated that parts have to be fabricated when they are replaced. The electrical system is constantly being updated or replaced. The old part of the jail was built in 1968 and the newer part was constructed in 1981. When it was built the contractors gave a life expectancy of 17 years for the jail. We are going on 38 years and we will continue to make repairs but it's like trying to patch a rusty bucket.
" If you have additional questions you want answers to in the future you can come by my office, mail a letter, contact from our Sheriff's Office website or private message us through our Facebook page. Thanks Sheriff J.R. Smith