Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins has received a lot of backlash following the popularity of the recent Netflix series “Unlocked: A Jail Experiment.” The series focuses on one unit of the Pulaski County jail and an experiment that gives the offenders unprecedented freedom.

The controversial series follows a six-week experiment at the Pulaski County Jail that “unlocked the doors” for the offenders so they could operate as a community rather than a traditional jail. Other aspects of this experiment included not charging for phone calls and allowing two visits per week rather than one. The trailer promotes the series as having “no locks and no officers.” Although the series is advertised as having no officers present, Sheriff Higgins says there were officers outside the unit watching on cameras. 

The “Unlocked” series has transformed Sheriff Higgins into a national celebrity. However, he has received heavy backlash from many Arkansas officials. Those unhappy with the series include Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde and the Pulaski County Quorum Court. Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has also called the experiment “reckless” and has called for the construction of a new state prison to keep repeat offenders off the street.

Sheriff Higgins noted that, although controversial, the show’s premise was to give the offenders an opportunity to “prove that they can act more like people and not criminals.” The sheriff also puts a high value on a decrease in recidivism, which is the relapse in criminal behavior. 

Despite the legality of the experiment being called into question, Sheriff Higgins maintains that he had the authority to conduct the experiment and allow the filming of the documentary.

This situation is still developing, and we will have more to report soon.