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Texas Needs More Prison Cells

November 22, 1997

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ The nation’s largest prison system, which already has tripled in size in the past five years, is running out of space and has to build more penitentiaries.

The Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Friday approved construction of two new high-security lockups, at a cost of $36 million each, and adopted plans for a third.

The 145,000-bed prison system will be full by January because of the low number of inmates receiving parole and because parole violators are being returned quickly to prison, officials said.

``There’s absolutely no question we’re about ready to get into a crunch once again,″ board Chairman Allan Plunsky said at Friday’s meeting.

In the meantime, lesser-security dormitories with about 107 beds each will be added onto 19 existing prison sites. And the state is looking to lease space in county jails.

Texas has almost tripled its prison capacity since 1992, at a cost of $1.5 billion.

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