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Arkansas correction facilities releasing inmates early due to overcrowding

Almost 400 potential parolees may soon be released from ADC prisons.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — The Arkansas Department of Corrections is facing overcrowding at facilities across the state. That’s why it is planning to release almost 400 potential parolees throughout the rest of this year. 

The ADC says the board of corrections approved a list of 369 inmates who are eligible for immediate release if they are approved by the parole board. They say whenever the prison population exceeds 98% of capacity for 30 consecutive days, the board of corrections can declare an emergency and move up the parole eligibility date for certain offenders by 90 days. 

It’s unclear what this will mean for our county jails which are facing overcrowding.

At the Washington County Detention Center, there are 104 inmates waiting to be transferred to the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

“Hopefully, we’ll get to send a few down but generally, we’ve been through this multiple times and they’ve got to spread it around statewide, so as far as the level of impact that we free up beds here, it’s not very much,” said Sheriff Tim Helder.

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Sheriff Helder says the jail’s maximum capacity is 595 and they are at 820 inmates (as of Monday, Sept. 26). He says they are truly in crisis mode.

“If it wasn’t by standards that we have 85% of capacity, we’d still have more people than we have actual beds. Then you throw in classifications and separation and segregation and COVID…we have no space,” he said.

Helder says a good portion of these potential parolees will likely end up in our area which adds to the caseload of our local parole and probation officers.

“I think they average probably 100 to 110 cases per parole officer, so add more to that. It’s virtually impossible for them to lay eyes or hands on these folks on a weekly basis,” he said.

The Sebastian County Jail has 63 inmates waiting to be transferred to the Arkansas Department of Corrections. They are also over capacity with 390 inmates which is about 40% over capacity.

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