Attorney for Jefferson County Judge: Detention facilities will be funded

An attorney representing Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson and the Quorum Court said that claims for payment to fund the operation and maintenance of the juvenile and adult prison were proceeding on Friday, at one days after Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. filed. an application for an immediate search order. financing.

Paragould attorney Kimberly Dale, who is representing Woods, asked the civil division of the circuit court to issue an immediate order directing Robinson to either approve the petitions for the paying or appearing in court to answer why he should not be detained for non-compliance. an executive order was issued by the court October 11 to determine the “adequate allocation” of the district’s funds and not the “unreasonable” withholding. Woods first filed a lawsuit against Robinson and the full Quorum Court – which named all 13 justices of the peace – on March 21, 2022, arguing the basis of the 2022 budget.

Dale said in an email to Woods’ office that there is a risk of not having enough food for the children in detention. But Casey Castleberry, a Little Rock attorney who represents Robinson and the Corum Court, said Robinson can’t allow a claim to be paid out of a lien if it’s not properly proven, according to state law.

“The law requires the District Judge to review all claims to ensure they comply with the budget approved by the Judicial Quorum,” Castleberry said in a statement. “The District Judge has approved all the claims that have been submitted and has rejected the claims that were not properly submitted, as required by law. Whenever a claim was denied, the District Judge issued a notice to the Sheriff for the denial and invited the claim to be resubmitted to correct the deficiencies. The Sheriff did not treat any information that was rejected.

Robinson has successfully denied many of the claims from Woods, Castleberry added by phone.

Dale said in his e-mail, that the guard does not get food for free on Sunday.

“Just as an example of claims that are being denied, Sysco food systems owes more than $184,429.73 and has eliminated any other debt to Jefferson County, after 20+ years of service,” the statement said. said Dale. “No other customer will pick up the account because Jefferson County’s credit rating is at risk.

“Funds are accounted for in financial statements by the sheriff’s office – the District Judge makes additional(al) limitations.” it’s subjective and disturbing.”

Castleberry said Sysco has not informed its customers of any debt cancellation opportunities, and he does not know the status of Jefferson County’s credit rating.

“Regarding the balance owed by the Sheriff’s Department to Sysco, the District Judge has been in contact with Sysco and will see that his bills to the Sheriff’s Department are paid from the appropriated funds. by Quorum Court,” Castleberry said.

A message for comment was left with a Sysco administrator.

In the first hearing, Woods sought a ruling on whether the district’s $33.1 million budget for 2022 was valid under the state constitution. Woods said he received a copy of an agenda and a proposed list of funding cuts that were not discussed in previous meetings with Robinson on December 7, 2021.

Woods proposed the 2022 budget that reflected a reduction of $328,003.91, which includes the allocation of funds needed for the operation and maintenance of the juvenile detention center.

“Such reductions in services include supplies, medical needs, food, etc.,” the suit says.

Woods requested an immediate restraining order.

Dale told The Commercial in a June 2, 2022, article that an “Employment Application/Preliminary Qualification” is required by Jefferson County officials before offering a position to someone who ” the foundation.” A county law that went into effect in March 2021 requires all elected officials to fill out forms before hiring potential workers that would allow the county clerk “to verify the job title and the employee’s availability.” before work.”

The district has suspended hiring since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but Dale argued that funds intended for certain jobs should not be affected by the hiring freeze under Arkansas law.

Dale argued that if there was any money, it should be rejected as unconstitutional.

Dale also asked the circuit court on December 23, for Robinson to explain why he should not be punished for not complying with the order in October. The defendants pleaded guilty on January 11.

Woods also sued Robinson and the Court of Quorum for the lack of funding for the adult prison, the WC “Dub” Brassell Detention Center, adding that the 2022 budget had an impact. negative to employees. According to a letter dated September 12, Woods requested in August that of the $585,712.93 available for distribution in the Senior Citizens Fund, $230,851 be taken on several lines related to the location.

Jefferson County approved a $35 million budget in December. Of this amount, $2,329,283.59 is earmarked for the police from the general fund, $1,647,808.71 is set by the court for youth and $900,000 will be given to the juvenile detention center from the sales tax, $48,342 in the adult fund. , $4,672. prison.

Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. (Special to Pine Bluff Commercial)

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