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LITTLE ROCK — Lawmakers on Friday approved a $136 million contract to house as many as 500 prisoners at a privately run jail facility in southeast Arkansas.

The Arkansas Legislative Council approved the 20-year contract with Drew and Bradley counties to house inmates at the facility that will be operated by Louisiana-based LaSalle Corrections. The state will pay about $8.1 million a year under the contract.

State correction officials have called the contract an opportunity to move more than 300 state inmates at a privately run jail in Texas back to Arkansas, while also relieving some bed space at state prisons. The state Board of Corrections approved the plan in September.

Under the plan, the counties are contracting directly with LaSalle. The facility will also house between 100 and 150 prisoners from the counties.

No private adult lockups have operated in Arkansas since 2001.

Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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