Lawmakers To Free Up Space In State Prisons

Local sheriffs said they needed help in relieving overcrowded county jails, and lawmakers responded this week by freeing up space in state prisons.

Sheriffs around the state say overcrowding in the jails can lead to violence.

“Something you could compare jail overcrowding to would be how about overcrowding of crocodiles or alligators when they`re lying on top of each other,” said Benton County Sheriff Kelley Cradduck.

Cradduck said prison overcrowding is a daily problem.

“We have 600 inmates right now and 500 are comfortable,” Cradduck said.

Lawmakers met this week in a special session in Little Rock to help local sheriffs with overcrowding.

The state is making space available to move some prisoners out of county jails into state prisons.

“The legislature went back and amended the budget we passed in 2013 and added another 6.2 million dollars to the department of correction to open up 604 beds to relieve strain on our county jails,” said Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville).

Leding said it`s a short term fix.

“’I think long term we have to revisit sentencing,” Leding said.

As for Cradduck, he agrees this is short term but appreciates any help from the state.

“It`s a good start it is but we don`t want to find ourselves in a similar or worse situation 10 years down the road,” Cradduck said.

Lawmakers tell 5NEWS they will look for a long-term fix to prison overcrowding at the next session in January.


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