Inmate custody reaching record-high in Arkansas - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Inmate custody reaching record-high in Arkansas

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- The Arkansas Department of Correction says the nearly 17,000 inmates in custody right now are putting a major strain on prisons.

Channel 7 reported two months ago that county jails were experiencing a large increase of inmates because of a new law requiring a revocation hearing before parole violators can be released. It's a number reaching historical levels inside county cells and our prison system.

Prison cells are so overcrowded at this point, Arkansas detention centers tell us they're turning inmates away. Those destined for years behind bars are instead being held in county jails.

"Having a larger number of people does create more stress. There are greater risks to staff, and to inmates because of the stresses and strains that go along with having those higher numbers," said Arkansas Department of Correction spokesperson, Shea Wilson.

Wilson told us there's a sole factor contributing to the 16,867 in custody, a number that's rising.

"Recent measures in the parole system they are revamping their system and bringing more people in so that of course puts more pressure on our agency," she added.

Arkansas Senator David Sanders was a strong advocate this summer that too many people were on parole, and instead should be behind bars. He's sticking to that stance and believes funding to hold more inmates needs to be allocated.

"Again I think what we have to do is potentially re purposing facilities. We can't afford not to do it because public safety is so important. Everything we do is figuring out what the true cost is, and prioritization of what we should be doing," Sanders said on Friday.

To help ease much of this pressure, ADC continues to use a system that actually paroles inmates that meet requirements for up to a year early.