Ground Work on State Prison Hospital Begins

AUGUST 3, 2006 - Posted at 5:05 p.m. CDT

MALVERN, AR - Work has begun on an 862-bed prison hospital.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokeswoman Dina Tyler says site preparation is underway and utilities were being moved.

Construction on the $39 million hospital is expected to take three years.  The hospital will treat terminally ill and chronically ill inmates.  It will employ abot 200 people.

Tyler says security measures will be taken to move sick prisoners to the new hospital.  She says just because an inmate is old or sick doesn't necessarily mean they no longer present a security challenge.  Tyler says the ill inmates can use canes and wheelchairs as weapons.

Tyler says the system has plenty of inmates who are terminally or chronically ill and the bed space won't take long to fill.

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