Prison board acts to ease overcrowding

LITTLE ROCK — Seeking to ease prison overcrowding, the state Board of Corrections voted in a special meeting Tuesday to invoke the Emergency Powers Act, making up to 104 inmates eligible for parole up to 90 days earlier than originally scheduled.

“These are people who have approved parole plans, who were already approved for parole by the Parole Board anyway,” said state Department of Correction spokeswoman Shea Wilson. “This just allows them to leave prison up to 90 days early.”

The Board of Corrections chose to invoke the act for the female inmate population, which as of Tuesday was 1,124, or 89 above capacity.

The board invoked the Emergency Powers Act to ease overcrowding in the male inmate population two weeks ago. That action made up to 288 inmates eligible for parole up to 90 days early.

Tuesday’s action came on the same day that Gov. Mike Beebe called a special session to address teacher insurance premiums and prison overcrowding. The session is scheduled to begin Monday.