State: prisons overcrowded because criminals break law

(January 20, 2004) - (Little Rock-AP) -- Prison overcrowding in Arkansas is being blamed, at least in part, on the high number of inmates who violate their parole. The state Department of Correction says when parole violators are sent back to prison, it burdens a system already struggling to cope with offenders. A study by the department shows that from 1997 through 1999, 15-thousand inmates were released from state prisons. Within three years, 51-hundred-55 of those released were back in prison for parole violations. Two-thousand-32 were returned to prison for new crimes. Prison officials say parole violations include failing drug tests or other post-release requirements, such as keeping authorities up to date on the inmate's address. At Malvern, the state is building a prison for parole violators who haven't committed a new crime. Officials say the facility should prevent about to 100 parolees per month from landing back in a regular prison. The facility will have 300 beds and will cost six-point-five million dollars. At the lockup, parole violators will undergo a 60-day program.