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Sheriff Puts Overcrowding Inmates to Work Filling Thousands of Bags of Trash

Overcrowding has plagued county jails and city lockups across the state but one sheriff is putting the inmates to good use while he has them.
SHERIDAN, AR - Grant County is just one of the many agencies left to deal with a lack of bed space at Arkansas Department of Correction prisons. Sheriff Ray Vance says it's creating a back log of inmates in the Sheridan jail where he rents space.

Like most other sheriffs in the state, Vance is forced to hold inmates waiting for bed space in state correction facilities. In turn, he's losing space.

Rather than have them take up space in their jail all day though, he's putting them to work.

"They'd be laying up in jail watching cable tv and suckin' up air conditioning ... It cost me every day they're in jail," Sheriff Vance said. "If I want to pay for somebody to do that ... I'm gonna be doin' that for myself."

The effort is part of the Grant County Clean Sweep Program.

In its first month of operation, Sheriff Vance says inmates have walked more than 250 miles of county roads, picking up trash and filling over a thousand bags.

While it may only be temporary he says the inmates would rather come out and enjoy the sunshine and a beautiful day.

Despite the service some families say these inmates don't deserve to enjoy some fresh air.

To that the sheriff says they go back to jail every night. The inmates go back to lockup, while other people get the chance go home and kick back in a recliner.

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