Communities Discuss Whether to Apply For Maximum Security Prison

GURDON, AR – Gurdon Mayor Curtis Franklin wants to unfold a plan to build a maximum security prison in or very near Gurdon.

“Well we’d be for it,” Mayor Franklin said looking at a map of Clark County looking at proposed sites. “We’d like to have it for a number of reasons.”

Of course, the idea of bringing in 250 jobs the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) prison would include would entice any struggling community.

Franklin continued, “Economic times have not been good the last few years.”

ADC has opened the door for communities to express interest in the construction of a 1000-bed prison.

The state wants to build a new prison to ease an overcrowded system.

Some say however, a new prison is not the answer.

“They’re still going to be overcrowded,” Henry Wilson insisted. “They’re still gonna have 85 percent of them black.”

Clark County NAACP President Henry Wilson has spoken out against the idea of having the prison constructed in Clark County.

He says too much of the prison population is made up of African Americans and the answer is not to just find another place to move those inmates around and bring more in.

He said, “We need some preventative programs to help these young blacks not to commit the crimes they’re committing.”

Whether the prison comes though is still up in the air.

The Clark County Justice of the Peace for District 10, Sherry Kelley, has been tasked with determining feasibility for bringing a prison to their County.

“Finding a site is going to be difficult because of all the requirements,” Kelley explained.

The ADC’s “Request for Expression of Interest” form asks each county to list infrastructure qualities for things like the area’s labor profile, education level of workforce, distance to nearest Interstates, highways, universities and hospitals.

Kelley added, “If we do find a site then public opinion would come into play.”

Mayor Franklin knows there’s leg work to be done but says Gurdon could get it done.

He said, “I know it will be a competitive deal and we’re in the ball game late but I think we’ve got a lot to offer for them.”

The deadline for expression of interest is October 24. According to the ADC, while some Counties are looking into the idea, Mississippi County is the only one to officially submit.

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