Susanne Brunner

Published 06/27 2014 05:47PM

Updated 06/27 2014 06:21PM

HOT SPRINGS, AR- Crews continue to work on the brand new Garland County Detention Center and work is almost complete. The Garland County Sheriff's Office says the state of the art facility will improve conditions. The current jail is overcrowded and inmates are sleeping on the floor.

"Right now our capacity is 88 beds at the present jail. And our average population is over 200," says Mark Chamberlain, Chief Deputy.

Chief Deputy Mark Chamberlain says non-violent criminals who should be locked up are actually back on the street.

"I think it does a disservice to the community first and foremost, but mainly to the criminal justice system," he says.

Not only is the jail deteriorating, there's just not enough space or rooms to hold programs for inmates. As a matter of fact, a pastor holds church services in the stairwell.

"The new facility has program space built into every housing unit, and then a larger program area where we are going to inmate meetings, AA meetings, church services, all the things we can't do now because of the lack of space," says Chamberlain.

Crews are currently working on the new detention center off Albert Pike in Hot Springs. It will have nearly 500 beds, and close to 300 security cameras compared to the 25 housed in the current one. The new jail also attracting Arkansans looking for work.

"We'll have about 100 employees where as now we have around 42. Most of them are detention deputy jobs," says Chamberlain.

It's all thanks to a one cent sales tax Garland County voters approved. Construction workers are 70 percent near completion, a project the Sheriff's Office has been looking forward to.

"Really excited is probably an understatement. We can't wait to get it going," says Chamberlain.

The detention center should be finished in September. It will be up and running by the end of the year. No word yet on what will happen with the old jail. If you're interested in applying for work at the new jail, you can stop by the Sheriff's Office to apply.

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