The state Board of Correction voted Monday to approve a contract that will allow it to house state inmates in an unused building at the Pulaski County jail.
The board voted unanimously in a conference call to approve the $1-a-year lease at the Pulaski County satellite building, which has 250 beds but hasn't been used as the jail's work center because of a lack of funding.
Under the deal, 200 inmates will be transferred there from the six largest counties across Arkansas — including Pulaski — and 50 percent of the inmates must come from Pulaski County. None of the inmates will require maximum-security, be third- or fourth-level sex offenders or gang leaders, and they all must be eligible for release in six months. Corrections officials will pull inmates from only counties with supportive reentry programs so that they have a better chance to be released more quickly.
The deal is aimed at relieving a record backlog of state inmates in county facilities. In a special session earlier this month, legislators approved $6.3 million to the Arkansas Department of Correction so it could open jail and prison beds to address the backlog.
In Pulaski County, where the jail is closed to most offenders accused of nonviolent, minor offenses because of overcrowding, officials planned to move 50 state inmates to the new facility today and 50 more later this week, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
The $1 contract is expected to save Pulaski County money because it will no longer have to pay to maintain the satellite building and it will no longer bear the costs for the state inmates that transfer from the county jail to the new state operation.