JUNE 1, 2004 - Posted at 12:36 a.m. CDT
NEWPORT, AR - With prison space overcrowded for female inmates, the state Board of Correction voted today to seek permission to build a 200-bed women's unit. The unit had been delayed for years because of budget cuts.
Prison spokeswoman Dina Tyler says the State Department of Correction will ask the Legislature for authority to transfer $3 million allocated for positions that have gone unfilled to pay for a metal building to be built with inmate labor at the Wrightsville Unit.
The board's vote followed one to invoke the Emergency Powers Act to let up to 630 parole-eligible inmates out of prison up to 90 days early to ease overcrowding.
In two weeks, the board will consider freeing up to another 100 parole-eligible inmates under an expanded Emergency Powers Act that allows parole up to a year early.
As of today, the state's male prison population stood at 11,700, which capacity for men is 10,978. There were 760 women in prison, 98 over capacity.
Also, 163 of the 763 state prisoners backed up in county jails are women.