Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps told lawmakers he needs a ten percent budget increase of $27 million to keep up with prison population growth.
Epps revealed those figures to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. He said the number of prisoners has grown more rapidly than expected.
For instance, in fiscal year 2003, the projection was that the prison system would receive 608 new inmates. The actual growth was 1,265.
The next year, the system gained 53 more inmates than projected.
Lawmakers appropriated $266 million for the state Department of Corrections for the current fiscal year, but Epps has made a $9.9 million deficit request. Epps said he needs $303 million for fiscal 2006, which begins next July 1, 2005.
Legislative budget writers are listening to agency requests this month to prepare a spending plan for fiscal year 2006.