Cross County Jail plagued with problems

WYNNE, AR (WMC) - In three months, three inmates have escaped from Cross County Jail in Wynne.

Sheriff J.R. Smith said he doesn't have enough jailers, and the problem is so bad some inmates are released early.

On top of that, Sheriff Smith said the jail, which is more than 40 years old, is falling apart.

"We probably do," said resident Alvin Davis. "I'm sure they need a new one."

Sheriff Smith said there are more problems than the 86 inmates the jail can house.

"You have electrical issues," Sheriff Smith said. "You have plumbing issues. Now it's at the point I have to have a plumber in here constantly."

Nub Ramsey of Ramsey Plumbing said most of the plumbing in the jail is obsolete, so it is hard to find parts to make repairs.

Sheriff Smith said he is spending thousands just to keep the deteriorating cast iron plumbing working, but that's not all.

"Concrete that holds cell doors, that concrete has expanded and a lot of those doors won't actually close," Ramsey said.

The jail is too small, and the sheriff said he has to let people with misdemeanors out early or just not lock them up.

Sheriff Smith said he also needs more jailers. There are currently only 18.

"They have to perform so many different tasks they can't do the stuff they need to do," Sheriff Smith said.

Sheriff Smith said that problem means there have been three escapes in the past three months.

Bryan Baldwin escaped twice, and one time he just walked out of the front door.

Another time, eight inmates helped him scale a razor wire fence. He was eventually caught.

Larry "Brain" Jackson Jr. also escaped. The sheriff said he called his girlfriend and Jackson returned to the jail.

Cross County residents said if they have to pay for a new jail, so be it.

"If we need it we're going to have to pay for it," __ said.

Sheriff Smith said he and the county are working to come up with some kind of solution. The bottom line, the sheriff says he needs a new jail.

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