Inside and Outside the Little River County Jail

Part One of Two
Limited jail space leads to inmate distribution, lower felony bonds

By JESSIE SMITH
LRNews Contributor

Page 1 Jail pic
Little River County Sheriff Bobby Walraven (left) and Chief Deputy Kevin Sanders (center) describe the current status of the overcrowded county jail and the effect it has on the legal system to LR News reporter Jessie Smith (right).

ASHDOWN – The Little River County jail holds a maximum of 24 inmates. As a result, the sheriff’s office often houses inmates in other county jails which leads to higher costs in housing and transportation as well as lower felony bonds.

Housing

The Little River County Sheriff ’s Office pays $38 per day to house an inmate in the Sevier County jail and $35 per day to house an inmate in the Nevada County jail. In July 2019, inmates from Little River County spent a total of 95 days in Sevier County and 267 days in Nevada County due to the limited space in the Little River County jail.

However, these neighboring jails do not have an obligation to house Little River County inmates or continue with the same prices, according to Sheriff Bobby Walraven. “There have been certain inmates we’ve had that other jails would not take,” Chief Deputy Kevin Sanders said.

In that situation, the sheriff houses the unwanted inmate in the Little River County jail and sends other inmates to other county jails to make room, according to Walraven.

Transportation

Every month, the two transport officers of Little River County travel approximately 4,000 to 5,000 miles to transport inmates to district court and circuit court, and since the Little River County jail holds a maximum of 24 inmates, the transport officers often travel to and from jails in Sevier County and Nevada County.

“These two transport officers stay pretty busy going back and forth,” Walraven said.However, a new system does cut down on some of the traveling. Beginning in January 2018, Little River County started using a video arraignment system that allows the judge to grant a first appearance and arraignment through video, and the Sevier County jail also uses the video arraignment system.

“That saves several hundred miles of traveling for my guys,” Walraven said. “After the first appearance and the arraignment, then the judge requires them to be in front of him, so we have to transport them.”

Felony Bonds

The 24-bed jail impacts the costs of housing and transportation, but another effect lies in the bonds set for felonies. Sometimes felony bonds are lowered in order to create more space within the jail.

Forty-six people were out on felony bond as of Aug. 27, and the charges of those 46 people range from possession of a controlled substance to aggravated assault to rape.“When we have the space to hold them, I would a whole lot rather be holding somebody [who] committed a violent crime in jail than to let them walk straight,” Walraven said.

The low bonds free up bed space so the sheriff’s office is not charged more than necessary to house inmates in other facilities, according to Jail Administrator Gina Butler.Walraven said this would change if a new jail was built with more space.

If the county votes not to build a new jail, the current jail will close in December ASHDOWN – The Little River County jail holds a maximum of 24 inmates. As a result, the sheriff’s office often houses inmates in other county jails which leads to higher costs in housing and transportation as well as lower felony bonds.

Housing

The Little River County Sheriff ’s Office pays $38 per day to house an inmate in the Sevier County jail and $35 per day to house an inmate in the Nevada County jail.In July 2019, inmates from Little River County spent a total of 95 days in Sevier County and 267 days in Nevada County due to the limited space in the Little River County jail.

However, these neighboring jails do not have an obligation to house Little River County inmates or continue with the same prices, according to Sheriff Bobby Walraven.“There have been certain inmates we’ve had that other jails would not take,” Chief Deputy Kevin Sanders said.

In that situation, the sheriff houses the unwanted inmate in the Little River County jail and sends other inmates to other county jails to make room, according to Walraven.

TransportationEvery month, the two transport officers of Little River County travel approximately 4,000 to 5,000 miles to transport inmates to district court and circuit court, and since the Little River County jail holds a maximum of 24 inmates, the transport officers often travel to and from jails in Sevier County and Nevada County.

“These two transport officers stay pretty busy going back and forth,” Walraven said. However, a new system does cut down on some of the traveling. Beginning in January 2018, Little River County started using a video arraignment system that allows the judge to grant a first appearance and arraignment through video, and the Sevier County jail also uses the video arraignment system.

“That saves several hundred miles of traveling for my guys,” Walraven said. “After the first appearance and the arraignment, then the judge requires them to be in front of him, so we have to transport them.” Felony BondsThe 24-bed jail impacts the costs of housing and transportation, but another effect lies in the bonds set for felonies.

Sometimes felony bonds are lowered in order to create more space within the jail. Forty-six people were out on felony bond as of Aug. 27, and the charges of those 46 people range from possession of a controlled substance to aggravated assault to rape.

“When we have the space to hold them, I would a whole lot rather be holding somebody [who] committed a violent crime in jail than to let them walk straight,” Walraven said. The low bonds free up bed space so the sheriff’s office is not charged more than necessary to house inmates in other facilities, according to Jail Administrator Gina Butler.

Walraven said this would change if a new jail was built with more space. If the county votes not to build a new jail, the current jail will close in December 2019 in favor of a 24-hour holding facility.

Walraven became the Little River County sheriff in 2017, but he said he had wanted the job since he was a child. He said he wanted to do something for the community.“We start doing this job, and we can continue to do it every day to help people,” Walraven said.

Next week

Next week, Part Two will look into the number of outstanding warrants in Little River County and how a limited number of beds in a jail can impact the crime in an area.

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