Construction underway for Boone County Jail expansion in Arkansas

HARRISON, Ark. -- Inside the Boone County jail, the math doesn't exactly add up.

There are 104 beds, but Friday there were 110 inmates.

"You have to let the best of the worst go sometimes for the simple reason you don't have a place to room them," said Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway.

But later this year, those numbers should improve.

This week, Boone County leaders gathered to see progress on a jail expansion that will add more than 40 beds. It's thanks to a quarter-cent sales tax voters approved 2 years ago.

"Hired a local contractor, and our contractor is hiring local subs to perform the work, and that's keeping the money here in Boone County," said Justice of the Peace Bryan Snavely.

Progress, however has been a little slow. Since laying the concrete foundation, weather hasn't allowed for much else.

"We can't do nothing in this weather," Hathaway said.

"It's still in the beginning stage," Snavely said.

But the overcrowding problem has been growing for quite some time.

"I just came back from a judge's meeting in Little Rock and every county judge I talked to has the same problem," Hathaway said.

Sheriff Mike Moore said in a previous interview he believes the opioid epidemic is a major cause.

"A lot of repeat offenders, probably 90 percent of our inmates are here on a drug-related charge," Moore said.

The $1.7 million expansion should help when it's done. But Boone County leaders know it won't solve every issue.

If all goes smoothly, the project should be completed by November or December of this year.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.