Update: Judge and Mayor reach agreement in proposal for new price per inmate

Pulaski County Jail


PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. – After months of discussion, Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde and City of Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. have reached a preliminary agreement. The county and the municipal governments agreed to a 25 percent increase for 2020 to allow leaders the opportunity to negotiate the terms of a permanent contract.

Therefore, the mayoral presentation to the Pulaski County Quorum Court to discuss the upcoming jail rate increase is cancelled.


PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. — A current proposal from the Pulaski county judge would nearly triple what cities pay to house inmates at the county jail.

The contracts are up for renewal and normally cities pay a flat fee, now the judge is asking for a fee per inmate.

“It’s a tremendous increase,” North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith said.

“We can’t afford it.”

Mayor Smith is one of several city officials getting this letter from Judge Hyde this month saying it’s time for the cities to pay the full amount it costs to house its inmates.

“The numbers that we’re getting are doubling and tripling our costs for jails,” Mayor Smith said.

Judge Hyde proposed going from a flat annual fee to a price per inmate saying in an email, “by all estimates, the expense of house city prisoners has been double or more than the flat fees paid in the past five years.”

“It’s going to be 178 dollars just to check them in,” Mayor Smith said.

If an inmate stays past 2 a.m. they’ll be an addition 52 dollars a day after the initial processing fee.

The sheriff’s office released these statistics showing how much each municipality paid in 2018, versus 2020 if this proposal is adopted and no other changes are made.

Little Rock: $1,855,600 (2018) $3,990,000 (2020)

North Little Rock: $798,000 (2018) $2,186,000 (2020)

Jacksonville: $210,000 (2018) $1,075,000 (2020)

Sherwood: $133,000 (2018) $832,000 (2020)

Maumelle: $51,000 (2018) $230,000 (2020)

One way Mayor Smith is looking to save money is by not booking people face misdemeanor citations, that way they can avoid the 178 dollar processing fee and save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“All of a sudden that misdemeanor shoplifter just cost the city of North Little Rock 250 dollars and they’re gone in 3 hours,” Mayor Smith said.

It happens frequently. The sheriff’s office shows how many people were arrested and how many were just issued citations in 2018.

Little Rock: 7,619 arrested; 3,559 citations

North Little Rock: 5,227 arrested; 3,123 citations

Jacksonville: 1,239 arrested; 297 citations

Sherwood: 895 arrested; 291 citations

Maumelle: 381 arrested; 150 citations

According to our calculations, in 2018, Pulaski County received about 3,038,000 dollars. If the proposal is adopted and nothing else changes, they would receive about 8,310,000 dollars in 2020.

The Little Rock Mayor’s Office issued a statement saying:

“Mayor Scott and other mayors in Pulaski County are diligently working with Pulaski County Judge Hyde to settle on realistic and fiscally responsible financial terms to house inmates from respective cities.”

“This is not personal by any means,” Mayor Smith said.

“We understand he’s got a budget, we’ve got a budget and we’ve just got to try to meet somewhere in the middle.”

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