DALLAS (AP) _ The Salvation Army says it's ready to lend a hand to state officials who are trying to find temporary beds for prisoners to avoid releasing them early because of prison overcrowding.

The Texas Department of Corrections approached Salvation Army officials to see if they could extend their halfway house program to inmates soon to be released.

''There is great need for an organization to help the state take these people who are on furloughs or might be released early. The Salvation Army is well-equipped to do that all across the state,'' said Lt. Col. John Mikles, Salvation Army commander for Texas.

Last week the state plan was to move 300 low-risk inmates to National Guard barracks at Fort Wolters in Mineral Wells. But U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice blocked the transfer Tuesday.

He was expected to issue a formal written order on that matter soon and state officials have indicated they will appeal immediately.

The Salvation Army operates halfway houses for inmates pending their release, and the discussions Thursday with the organization would expand that program, Mikles said.

''We have facilities in 40 cities across the state, and some in the metropolitan areas are very large. We probably could handle 200 to 250 inmates across the state,'' he said.