Arkansas will release approximately 400 potential parolees to ease prison overcrowding

File photo
File photo

Arkansas' Department of Corrections will release almost 400 potential parolees during a 90-day period because the prison population exceeds capacity.

The corrections board on Friday unanimously approved use of the state's Emergency Powers Act and certified a list of 369 male inmates as being eligible for immediate release if approved by the parole board.

Arkansas Division of Correction Director Dexter Payne said a list of inmates has been approved who will be eligible for release under the act. The releases apply only to the male prison population.

The Department of Corrections has used the Emergency Powers Act to address prison overcrowding multiple times over the past year. In March, the agency approved the release of 387 inmates after the prison population reached 13,834 for 30 consecutive days.

Prison overcrowding has been a topic among legislators for the past year after county sheriffs from across the state complained about how a backup of state prisoners is overcrowding their jails, making it unsafe for county jail employees.

Citing a 10-year projection of inmate population growth, Gov. Asa Hutchinson requested $75 million in spending authority from the Legislature earlier this year to expand the North Central Unit in Calico Rock by nearly 500 beds, which was approved.

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