Board says 204 in­mates el­i­gi­ble for early re­lease

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

The Ar­kan­sas Board of Cor­rec­tions on Thurs­day made 204 in­mates el­i­gi­ble for early re­lease, while ap­prov­ing the open­ing of more beds at a state prison in Pine Bluff.

Dur­ing a tele­con­fer­ence held in the morn­ing, the board voted to in­voke the Emer­gency Pow­ers Act, which it has sim­i­larly done ev­ery 90 days for nearly 20 years as a valve to re­duce over­crowd­ing in prisons.

There were 176 men and 28 women made el­i­gi­ble for early re­lease by the board’s unan­i­mous vote.

In­mates made el­i­gi­ble for early re­lease must still get ap­proval from the Pa­role Board. Those who have al­ready been ap­proved for pa­role still have to com­plete any con­di­tions of their re­lease.

The re­leases will be bro­ken up into 30-day win­dows over the next three months.

In other busi­ness Thurs­day, the board ap­proved a re­quest from the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion to be­gin mov­ing in­mates into a new 64-bed bar­racks at the Pine Bluff Unit.

Depart­ment Di­rec­tor Wendy Kel­ley told the board the old cen­tral records build­ing at the prison had been ren­o­vated into bar­racks to house in­mates.

The build­ing is in­side the perime­ter fence and is just as se­cure as other parts of the prison, Kel­ley said in re­sponse to a ques­tion from the board.

With the board’s ap­proval, in­mates will be moved into the new bar­racks on Mon­day and Tues­day.

There were 18,081 in­mates un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Cor­rec­tion Depart­ment on Thurs­day, in­clud­ing 1,474 housed in backup at county jails.

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