Officials seek more money for prisons

LITTLE ROCK (Arkansas News Bureau) State corrections officials Wednesday credited reforms enacted two years ago with easing overcrowding and slowing rising costs, but they asked lawmakers for an additional $5.7 million next fiscal year to open more than 450 new prison beds at several units across the state.

Prison Director Ray Hobbs said one of the goals is to move all elderly inmates, or those with psychological problems, to the Department of Correction's Ouachita River Special Needs Unit in Malvern.

Prison officials presented their proposed budget to members of the Legislative Council and Joint Budget Committee, who have been reviewing agency budgets this fall in advance of the 2013 legislative session.

On Thursday, the Beebe administration is scheduled to present its revenue forecast and the governor's $4.5 billion balanced budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins next July 1.

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