Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he's asking lawmakers to approve spending $7.4 million from Arkansas' discretionary funds to open 200 more prison beds in an effort to ease overcrowding of state inmates at county jails.
The Republican governor told the Arkansas Sheriffs Association at its summer meeting on Monday that he's seeking the money to open the beds in Pine Bluff in about 18 months. Hutchinson said he hoped to submit his request to a legislative committee by next week.
The funding request is in addition to the $33 million plan lawmakers approved earlier this year to help ease a backlog of state inmates in local jails. Hutchinson said the state has opened 526 new prison beds since he took office in January.