As of today (April 30) the Phillips County Jail has closed its doors. Sheriff Neal Byrd made the formal announcement during a press conference in the circuit courtroom of the Phillips County Courthouse.
A total of 60 inmates have been transferred to jail facilities in neighboring counties such as Arkansas and Cross. A total of 18 employees, including 9 full-time workers, have been laid off.
The jail was closed after failing to pass its latest inspection as the result of several serious violations. Byrd was not specific about the violations.
Phillips County Judge Don Gentry stated that the facility was 30 years old and had been in disarray for some time.
“The situation was caused by deterioration over a period of time,” said Gentry. “This is not something that happened overnight.”
Byrd said the county would continue to work with all of the communities within the county including Lexa, Marvell and Elaine as well as Helena-West Helena.
“Our (the Sheriff's Office) procedures and day-to-day operations will not change,” assured Byrd. “We will continue to provide the services we always have – protection and security.”
The Sheriff's Department is in the process of renovating the booking area of the existing jail facility.
“We will continue to keep Phillips County as safe as possible,” stated Gentry.