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you’re going to punish people,” he said. “Are we financially smart putting people who can’t pay a fine in jail, and now we’re paying for their meals, their doctor’s visits? We’re paying for everything.” But Hollenbeck said the back-up of state in- mates in the county jail is putting pressure on his department to release additional county inmates. “We’re having to release people to make room for people who should be in the penitentiary,” he said. “Jails are meant to house misdemeanor offenders and to temporarily hold felony offend- ers until they’re handed over to the state.” It’s also a financial hardship for counties. Te

state reimburses counties $28 a day for each state inmate they house — roughly half the ac- tual cost. And even that money is often slow coming. Hollenbeck, a Fort Smith native, served on the legislative committees for the Association of Arkansas Counties and the Arkansas Sheriff’s Department, which were instrumental in the proceedings of a special legislative session called last summer by Gov. Mike Beebe to address the prison overcrowding issue. Te result: Te General Assembly passed a bill

to provide $6 million to fund an additional 604 prison beds in state facilities, and appropriated $1 million for the DFA to use toward reimbursing counties for their costs to house state inmates. “But that’s a Band-Aid,” Hollenbeck said. “We

have to address the entire criminal justice system.” Hollenbeck, a Fort Smith native, brings 32

years of law enforcement experience to the table. After graduating from Northside High School, he enrolled at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith with an eye on a career in law enforcement. After two years he transferred to UA-Fayetteville, but his academic career was soon derailed by a recruiter from the Dallas Police Department. “He was in his uniform looking all sharp and

“You’ve got to be financially smart on how


‘spit-polished,’ and I’m working full time try- ing to go to school, and like any other student, starving, and he said you only have to have two years to work for us, so come to Dallas,” Hol- lenbeck said. Hollenbeck worked for the Dallas Police Department from 1982 until 1990, when he came back to Fort Smith and the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department. Tere, he worked

“You’ve got to be financially smart on how you punish people. Are we financially smart

putting people who can’t pay a fine in jail, and now we’re paying for their meals, their doctor’s visits? We’re paying for everything.”

— Bill Hollenbeck Sebastian County Sheriff


first as a patrol officer and then in the criminal investigations division until he took a leave of absence in 2009 to run for sheriff. During that time he completed a degree in organiza- tional management from John Brown University and attended the FBI National Academy, a three-month leadership course for law enforcement executives that combines academic study and physical fitness training. He has also taught criminal jus- tice classes at UA-Fort Smith. Hollenbeck was elected in 2010 and took office Jan. 1, 2011. He said his first priority was the county’s adult deten- tion center, which houses a total of about 15,000 inmates each year. He said the building was deteriorating physically, inmates had escaped and been accidentally released, technol- ogy was outdated if not nonexistent, it was overcrowded and understaffed, and what employees it did have received almost no training in how to do their jobs. “It really was in distress,” Hollenbeck said. Now, jail employees are required to complete at least 40

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