New law for holding parolees could place burden on jails

A new law hitting the books Wednesday, requiring parole violators of violent and sexual crimes to be held behind bars, could put a strain on county jails.

It's a law to make parolees go through a revocation hearing before being released

This law was written in the best interest of preventing continuous criminals from being released back into public without a proper hearing, but it has another side to it that could require one of the state's largest county jails to shut down.

Past the steel wiring, and inside the walls of the Pulaski County Jail are almost 1,200 inmates with the state funding only about 20 additional spots.

"So there's not a whole lot of leeway there as far as if more people come in," said Lieutenant Carl Minden with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department.

Lt. Minden confirms some of the stress comes from almost a fourth of its occupants inside these cells being held for the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

"Is the state going to work with us to get them out quicker, and into the state penitentiary?" Minden wondered.

"Or are they going to build more technical violator centers to house these people? We can't. I know some of the smaller jails are in the same boat, we can't house anymore."

The law is targeted to keep repeat criminals off the streets, like in the recent case of Tony Edward Perry. Perry was a convicted rapist on parole, who is again charged with the same crime, but was wrongly released. Now the Department of Community Corrections has a warrant out for his arrest.

However, if the jail gets too crowded, it could shut down and possibly produce a large issue at hand.

"The officers would be limited to, for certain offenses, citing them out. We would still take violent felons, but some of your minor things might be cited out where normally they would go to the jail and have to bond out," Minden said.

Here's a look at how the numbers breakdown of inmates being held for the department of corrections:

Almost 50 inmates are parole violators waiting to be sent back, while 77 are on a parole hold. Seventy-six in the Pulaski County Jail are awaiting their parole hearing, and about 90 are waiting for an open spot in the prison.

The number of holds for ADC totals the 290 occupants that Pulaski County is taking care of for the state system.