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PRISON'S RELEASE VALVE IS CLOSE TO BLOWING

While the rest of the world waits for Fridays, prison officials look forward to Tuesdays.

That's the day inmates being paroled are released from prison. And this Tuesday is especially crucial. The prison is 99 inmates over its operational capacity and within two weeks of triggering the state's emergency release law.If the prison operates above capacity for more than 45 consecutive days, state law forces officials to release inmates until the population falls below that cap.

Corrections spokesman Jack Ford said officials have been scrambling to get below operational capacity before they hit 45 days.

As part of that effort, inmates fashioned metal beds and officials opened a new dormitory in what used to be high school classrooms late last week, Ford said.

Not only do the new beds give prison officials a place for inmates, it raises the operational cap by 24 beds.

In addition to finding more beds, prison officials have asked the county jails to hold on to any prisoners who are scheduled to come to the prison until they fall below that cap.

"Forty-five is the number," Ford said. "We're close, but with the expanding and releasing, we'll once again go back down to day one."

"Probably Wednesday, they (the jails) will unload on us," he said. Officials will pray for Tuesdays and hope nothing gets in the way of the pre-release center scheduled to open by mid-July.

"The hope is just to get through until July," Ford said. The pre-release center is under construction and when it first opens will house 240 inmates. It has the potential of housing up to 400 inmates.

Inmates used to be paroled every other Tuesday, but in an effort to ease crowded conditions, the Board of Pardons and Parole is now releasing parolees every Tuesday.