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PROFILE


Above: Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck and other county officials prepare to attend a Legislative Budget Committee hearing at the state Capitol in October. Right: He is the newest member of AAC’s Board of Directors and an Arkansas Sheriff’s Association executive board member.


Crowded House


Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck sets his sights on a solution for state inmates stuck in county jails


By Jennifer Barnett Reed For County Lines


inmates escaping or being released unintentionally; and give the department’s public image a makeover. An overhaul of the state parole system in 2013, sparked by


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the arrest of a recently released parolee in a high-profile mur- der case in Little Rock, added another item: Do something to ease overcrowding at the county jail caused by a spike in the number of state inmates — many of them parole violators — waiting for a bed in a state prison. As the end of Hollenbeck’s second two-year term approach-


es, he can point to significant progress on the first three points. Te fourth, though, remains a problem — one he’s worked to address in 2014 as the newest member of the Association of Arkansas Counties’ Board of Directors and an executive board member of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association, and one he an-


ill Hollenbeck came into the Sebastian County sheriff’s office in January 2011 with a fairly intimi- dating to-do list: Improve training for deputies and other employees; plug security gaps that led to


ticipates will dominate his activities in 2015 as well. “It’s not just a problem for me — it’s a big problem for


every sheriff,” Hollenbeck said. “We need the state to lead the conversation and find the solutions. Right now we have the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association and the Association of Arkansas Counties that seem to be leading the conversation. Tis is a state issue. I have our local media asking us what needs to be done, but I am the county sheriff. I’m not the director of the Department of Corrections.” As county sheriff, Hollenbeck has tried to ease overcrowding in the 356-bed Sebastian County Adult Detention Center by working with other county officials to develop a community service sentencing alternative. Instead of sentencing someone to jail for a nonviolent, misdemeanor offense or because they can’t afford to pay a fine, the program lets the court “sentence them to the sheriff” instead, Hollenbeck said. Each day any- where from 5 to 15 individuals participate in the community service program, he said. Tey wash patrol cars, mow grass, pick up trash, and work at the county’s parks, among other jobs. In 2013, people sentenced through the program provid- ed 1,842 days of community service worth about $100,000 to Sebastian County.


COUNTY LINES, FALL 2014


COUNTY OFFICIAL


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