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Gary B.: Lack of ‘309’ prisoner help at Independence County Sheriff’s Office starts to show

White River Now’s Gary B. takes a look at “309” prisoners and what the current lack of their availability means for the Independence County Sheriff’s Office.

The state of Arkansas has a program in its incarceration program that allows “model” prisoners to be transferred to local jails. There, the prisoners will assist the county or city with some of their local programs, most times in the area of maintenance.

A prisoner could be released each morning, for instance, to go to the local sheriff’s department and help with cleaning the facility or maintaining the outside of the property, then taken back to spend the night at the jail.

Independence County has been a recipient of several such prisoners over the years, called “309” prisoners. The name comes from the law that set up the program.

Independence County has 309 prisoners, but they are not now allowed to leave the jail area to work, according to the state, and employees at the sheriff’s office say it shows.

Employees at the sheriffs office are now required to assist in keeping their workspace clean, and the outside of their building, particularly the grassy areas are not “kept” unless a member of the sheriff’s staff does it.

I found out about the loss of the 309 prisoners to work at the sheriff’s office, and the work they had been doing in maintenance when I recently asked why the lawn at the department wasn’t being mowed. 

You never know until you ask.

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Get up-to-date local and regional news along with the latest weather every weekday morning by listening to Gary B. and Ozark Newsline on Arkansas 103.3 KWOZ93 KZLE, and other W.R.D. Entertainment radio stations. If you have a news tip or event to promote, email White River Now at


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