SEARCY, Ark. -- Overcrowding. Inhumane conditions. Just two of many accusations made to FOX16 in recent weeks against the White County Detention Center.
"We've got 50 men in a 15 man pod," reported one inmate over video chat two weeks ago. "Men are lined up down the hall, down the dayroom, on the ground or on the floor."
Wednesday, the jail finally fired back at those allegations by letting our crews inside the jail to look for themselves.
"Some people just have vendettas they want to see fulfilled," said White County Major Clayton Edwards.
Edwards firmly believes they run a "model facility" and wanted to show us.
Equipped with only cell phones and instructed not to film inmates, Edwards and Captain Brandon Grimes took us on a tour of the facility, in hopes of debunking some of the complaints.
In some of the pods, you could see inmates sleeping on the ground, as what had previously been alleged. However, you could also see empty top bunks on some of the beds.
From what our crews could see, none of the cell blocks appeared to be overcrowded in the way they were described to be two weeks ago.
"The overcrowding stems from us having to empty out a 40 bed pod so we could refurbish it," Edwards said. "So they could live in better living conditions."
Edwards says condemning allegations are nothing new. Many have tried to sue to jail, but none have done so successfully under the current Sheriff's administration.
"If you're doing your job, and doing it right, you're going to beat any lawsuit," he said.
Major Edwards is also running for White County Sheriff. He doesn't know if the increase in allegations could be fueled as the race heats up.
Coincidentally, the state's Criminal Detention Facilities Review committee had a scheduled inspection of the White County Jail September 26th, the day after our original story aired.
Jail standards officials say the inspection report is still being completed but should be available by the end of this week. FOX16 has submitted a request for a copy of that report.
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