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Sales tax-related cutbacks affect women’s unit at Independence County Jail

When it became necessary for each county department to cut expenses with the coronavirus-related downturn in sales tax collections, Independence County Sheriff Shawn Stephens said one area where he could cut back was by furloughing the number of employees needed to house female prisoners.

Currently, any female arrested in the county or any of its cities will now have to be taken for incarceration to another county that takes female prisoners. (Batesville Police recently had to transport a female subject to the Stone County Jail. Click here for that story.)

The sheriff said he has three women incarcerated in Greene County, paying $35 per day for each prisoner. Stephens said additional costs will be incurred when the department has to go pick up and take the prisoners to their Independence County court appearances, and then in some cases, take them back to the county that is housing them.

Sheriff Stephens said in order to keep female prisoners, his department must have at least one jail matron on duty at all times —  and that takes a minimum of three matrons.

He said between the difficulty of keeping matrons and furloughs, he doesn’t have enough matrons to keep female prisoners at this time.

In addition, since repairs were needed to the male side of the jail, Stephens is temporarily keeping some male prisoners in the women’s unit of the detention center.

The sheriff said the cutback in the budget has also affected his patrol, investigation, and civil service areas as well.

Stephens said he has had to juggle employees in order to keep at least three patrols covered, 24 hours a day.

“All department heads must do their part, and that includes me,” Stephens said.

That’s why you might see the sheriff, along with Chief Deputy Aaron Moody, on patrol as well.

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