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Corrections to ask for early release

Corrections Director James Saffle asked Gov. Frank Keating on Friday to declare a state of emergency because of prison crowding.

In a letter to the governor, Saffle said the inmate population at facilities was 21,412, which was 113 inmates above 95 percent
capacity. The population has been above 95 percent of capacity for 30 days, which triggers the prison cap law.

The Corrections Department said about 200 inmates might be freed if the emergency declaration is approved.

If Keating declared an emergency, 60 days would be cut from the sentences of inmates serving time for nonviolent offenses and
imprisoned in medium- or minimum-security prisons, said Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie.

Inmates with 60 or fewer days left on their sentences would be released, he said.

The cap law last was implemented in November and resulted in the release of almost 200 inmates. Another release was averted earlier this year with additional inmate beds in a private prison.

Keating, who was out of the country Friday, will have 15 days to respond to Saffle's request.

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