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Arkansas governor backs adding nearly 500 prison beds

February 10, 2022 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called Thursday for tapping into the state’s surplus to pay for adding nearly 500 beds to the state prison system.

Hutchinson said $60 million to $100 million would be needed for the 498-bed expansion of the state’s North Central Unit in Calico Rock, 95 miles (153 kilometers) north of Little Rock.

The Republican governor said he’ll seek legislative approval for the plan when lawmakers convene next week for this year’s fiscal session. Hutchinson said the expansion is needed because of expected growth in the state’s prison inmate populations and to ease the backlog of state inmates housed in county jails.

“We need to address the issue of adequate space,” Hutchinson told reporters at his weekly news conference.

Corrections Secretary Solomon Graves said officials hoped to begin construction early next year on the expansion if approved.