Sheriff's Dispatch

By: 
Eric Knox
Benton County Sheriff
Hello Benton County,
Over the past few months, I have reached out to many of you and discussed the facts about our jail issues and the solution we have. To those of you I have not been able to reach, I hope you have investigated the facts and done your own research on all of the details.
The proposed facility is just over 27,000 square feet, which will house the Sheriff’s Office employees and an 80 bed detention center. The facility will be all-inclusive and self-contained, with a laundry facility and a kitchen which will allow us to prepare meals on-site. The number of beds can be increased in the future as needed (and very inexpensively), to 100 beds by adding bunks within the dormitory style cells. The total cost of the land, utilities, construction, furnishings, equipment and services is estimated at the $10 million dollar price being promoted. 
In 1998, Audrian County built a 100 bed facility for $4.3 million. Their facility is very similar to the one we are proposing. This year, they are adding 40 more beds to their existing facility as an expansion, costing them $5.5 million. This $5.5 million is just for an expansion! You can see how much the cost to build has increased over the years. Compare their 40 bed expansion for $5.5 million and our new facility proposal at $10 million and you’ll see the insight on how well our project is designed and the savings we were able to incorporate.
Overcrowding is one of our major issues, along with correct segregation and classification of our detainees. Civil detainees cannot be housed with criminal detainees. Specifically, violent offenders cannot be housed with non-violent offenders. Young men and women who are 17 years old cannot be housed with other men and women who are 18 years and older. Those with mental issues or ones who are suicidal cannot be housed with the regular population; and anyone with medical conditions must be sent elsewhere due to lack of medical facilities and a non-sterile environment. Benton County is currently paying between $40-$50 per person to send detainees elsewhere due to our inability to segregate and provide for these mentioned issues. We have spent as high as $18,000 a month to send detainees elsewhere, whereas the proposed jail facility will rectify these issues. 
Keep in mind that our county jail is 99% full of pre-trial individuals who  are detained until their day in court, when the Judge determines if they are guilty or innocent. Once that is determined, they are either released or held in our jail only briefly until they are transported to the Department of Corrections for their punishment phase. This is when they turn from a detainee to an inmate and are transferred to the custody of another facility.    
The safety of my staff, as well as the detainees, is also a major factor to consider. Our County Deputies and Sheriff Office staff, the men and women serving you every day, will have workstations, an adequate evidence room and overall safe and clean environment to more effectively serve you and the needs of the county. Providing a safe and healthy environment for them is important to me, as I’m sure it is important to all of you. 
I want everyone to make an informed decision when it comes to your vote, so if you have further questions or would like further information, please give me a call: 660-438-6135. I also encourage everyone to take a look at the informational video that might answer some questions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFXSyfclALY (On YouTube: Benton County - New Jail Proposal & Law Enforcement Administration Space.)
Your vote counts! You will vote on who will be running your county and making decisions on your behalf. You will also vote on school board candidates who effect your children. Be the voice Benton County needs and vote for WHAT you believe will better the county we all live in, be the voice Benton County needs and vote for WHO you believe will better the county we all live in. Be the voice and let it be heard. Together we will stand and I’m continuously proud to serve you.    
Benton County Sheriff
Eric Knox      

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