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Missouri's Early Release Program for Nonviolent Inmates Fails to Decrease Prison Population

December 14, 2004
By: Bente Birkeland
State Capital Bureau

Missouri's Department of Corrections is under attack by a state legislator for not releasing enough nonviolent prisoners early, despite a law which encourages it. Bente [BEN-tah] Birkeland reports from Jefferson City.

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State law makers created the early release program to help control Missouri's growing prison population.

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections more than 5,000 prisoners qualify for early release but so far the Department's only released 13.

Kevin Engler, south-east Missssouri Republican Senator Elect says these numbers aren't good enough.

He says legislators need to work with the Corrections Department to make the program more effective.

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ENGLER1 "We have to look at the overall picture too of how many people are entering the system because we're almost full at the overflow. That will present challenges throughout the state.

Engler says he expects Missouri's prison cells for women to be full within the next two years.

From the state Capitol I'm Bente Birkeland