Department of Correction ready to begin plans for a new prison - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Department of Correction ready to begin plans for a new prison

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NEWPORT (KATV) -- There's not enough room for all the inmates in the prison system, but the Arkansas Department of Correction believe it has a solution.

In a board of corrections meeting Thursday, it approved to begin planning for a new prison in Arkansas because overcrowding is putting too much of a strain on the system.

With the unanimous vote the board plans on spending $5 to $6 million in the next year to make plans for the building of a 1,000 bed prison.

The ADC reports inmates are coming in at nearly seven times what the prison has projected, and the issue of overcrowding is too much for county jails to handle.

"The board of correction will now start entertaining a new 1,000 bed prison in the state of Arkansas," Department of Correction Board Chairman Benny Magness said.

Magness told ADC members that he sat down with Governor Mike Beebe Wednesday to get advice on what the board should do moving forward. With the recommendation of the governor Magness said it decided to get the ball rolling on more bed space.

"You know in like four years we'll be at 18,000 (inmates). We don't have 18,000 beds, you know that's another 2,000 beds so we have to do that now," he added.

More than 2,700 inmates are currently in county jails awaiting bed space in the prison system. The new parole system, that has more inmates awaiting a revocation hearing, combined with lengthier sentences among younger inmates, the prison system says overcrowding is a problem it doesn't see going away anytime soon.

"We'll be hopefully prepared by the next legislative session to ask to know then if we need to continue forward, which I really believe we will," Magness said.

Location of a new prison  is too far out to tell right now, but Chairman Magness said the planning and building could take up to four years, and estimates a new prison will cost between $75-$85 million.