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Judge Finds Rhode Island In Contempt For Prison Crowding

October 22, 1988

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ A federal judge Friday held the state in contempt of court for overcrowding in a section of the state prison and threatened fines of $50 per extra inmate per day.

″This court has finally, regretfully, reached the end of its Job-like patience″ with overcrowding at the Intake Service Center of the Adult Correctional Institution, U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Pettine wrote.

Pettine said if the population at the intake unit in Cranston exceeds 250 after Feb. 20, he will levy the fines. He gave the state until Nov. 21 to come up with a new plan for reducing the inmate population at the center, which holds prisoners awaiting trail.

As of Friday morning, the intake unit’s population was 431 inmates, said Corrections Department spokesmen Joseph A. DiNitto. At that level the daily fine would be $9,050.

″I can’t foresee there’s any possibility of meeting that deadline since we’ve been at 450 in there in recent days,″ said state Corrections Director John J. Moran.

Inmates, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, sued in 1977 to correct numerous problems they contended existed at the prison.

John Biafore, assistant legal counsel to Gov. Edward D. DiPrete, blamed the overcrowding on more drug-related arrests and legislation making bail harder to obtain. Biafore said the governor’s aides had met with judges to speed procedures for releasing those eligible for bail.

″It was working, but no one can explain why over the last three to four months there’s been such a great amount of drug arrests,″ he said.

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