Early Prison Release, New Jails Come Just in Time

NOVEMBER 30, 2004 - Posted at 7:46 CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas Board of Correction has again invoked its authority to grant some prisoners early release because of overcrowding.

Arkansas set a new record for prison population last week, and that record is expected to be exceded this week.

The state has a backlog of 984 inmates in county jails, equal to nearly 20 percent of county jail beds in the state.  Up to 791 state inmates will get early release.

Some new prison beds are to be opened soon.  The additional space is to be available in July when an addition at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit at Malvern is complete.

The state set the record for its prison population last Wednesday with 13,726 inmates.

The prison system is asking for new prisons to handle 850 more beds for men and another 200 for women, in addition to space for 200 women's beds being built now.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)