LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Arkansas parole problems were under the microscope again Monday. This time, a dilemma brewing over whether to lock up more violent parolees has come forward; it happens at a time when Arkansas prisons are already overcrowded.
Prison officials said they started the year with a backup of a couple hundred inmates, and that number has now grown to more than a thousand. They think it will keep growing and will need more beds.
They're talking now about reopening a jail that was closed a year ago when officials added more beds in Malvern, but that jail is in need of renovations that would take until the latter part of 2015 to complete.
Dina Tyler with the Department of Community Correction (DCC) said to lock up more offenders, the state will have to pay for the costs of doing so.
"We've stretched ourselves as far as we can go. We got to seriously look at opening the beds that are already built that we haven't had the funding to open, and no one want to hear it, but it's time to talk about building some new prisons," she explained.
Tyler said for two years, the DCC experienced no growth. She attributes this to sentencing reforms passed and tactics by the DCC officials.
The head of the DCC addressed a recurring $9-million problem as well Monday. Employees have been asked to wait in the past to be paid for things like holiday pay. The Governor bailed the DCC out in the past and with rainy day funds. Now the DCC wants it added into the budget before they take on more inmates.