Prison Officials Seek $76 Million to Cover Prison, Parole Costs

JULY 3, 2006 - Posted at 7:39 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - New duties and more prisoners have prompted Arkansas prison and parole officials to seek a total of $76 million more money in annual budgets.

They say the money is needed to meet costs of a state law on monitoring sex offenders, build a new therapeutic center, add beds for women prisoners, and expand prisons.

The Department of Community Correction, which supervises parolees and probationers, requested $79.3 million for the two years beginning July 1, 2007.  The request represents about a 47 percent increase over the agency's current general revenue funds.

Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections is seeking about a 16 percent increase in its budget over the biennium.  That would bring its yearly budget total to $295 million in general revenue.  Department officials said the money is needed to expand prisons at Malvern and Newport and cover higher fuel, food, utility and medical costs.

The budgets won't be considered by the Legislature until next year, and state officials expect the figures will be pared down by then.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)