Prisons Face Being Completely Full Within Year

Prisons Face Being Completely Full Within Year

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Sam Penrod ReportingState prison authorities are gearing up for the likelihood they will be at capacity by early next year and they are looking at their options if the prison fills up.

Last month the prison had a net increase of 85 inmates. Usually there is just an increase of 25 inmates, so now suddenly the prison is down to just 200 available beds. Over the last few years the prison population has been growing by about 250 a year.

For example, in a year's time they will get a thousand new inmates, but 750 others will have served their time or be given parole. That number is less than five years ago, because of the use of drug courts, which keeps more drug offenders out of prison. And fewer parole violators getting sent back to prison.

Still the number of prisoners keeps going up and the options of incarcerating them at the prison or county jails, which house inmates for the state, are running out.

Jack Ford, Utah Dept. of Corrections: "We today have about 200 open beds, with the county jails that we use and with our own facilities, so we're looking at the growth rate continuing, by February we would probably be at capacity."

But there is some help on the way. 200 more beds will be available at the Beaver County jail next May, and by this time next year, another 200 beds will open at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. And prison officials will lobby state lawmakers for more money to house inmates.

What prison officials will consider is giving inmates with a parole date an early release by a month or two, but emphasize there will are no plans right now for an emergency release of a large number of prisoners.

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