Prison Overcrowding Bill Passes House

April 15, 2003
Posted at: 8:09 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The House gave final legislative approval today to a bill intended to ease the state's prison overcrowding problem.

The bill measure sets new Emergency Powers Act criteria that could result in the release of hundreds of state inmates imprisoned for nonviolent crimes. The releases could occur when the state prisoner backlog in county jails exceeds 500.

The current provisions of the act authorizes the state to grant early release of state inmates when the prison population exceeds 98 percent of capacity for 30 consecutive days.

Under the bill, the board could release nonviolent offenders who have served at least six months.

The correction board agreed not to make methamphetamine offenders who currently must serve 70 percent of their sentence eligible for release.

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