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Prison furloughs

Convicted murderer Curtis Reese has been outside the prison walls before his escape Monday.
Convicted murderer Curtis Reese has been outside the prison walls before his escape Monday.

The Arkansas Department of Correction granted Reese emergency furlough twice, most recently last year.

Inmates can get out of prison on furlough for good behavior, as part of a work release, or for a family emergency. Reese got emergency furlough last year for the funeral of a family member.

When criminals are sent to prison, typically the only way out is to finish the sentence. However, the Arkansas Department of Correction grants furloughs under special circumstances.

Dina Tyler is the Assistant Director of the Arkansas Department of Correction. Tyler says inmates who hold jobs in the community and are about to go home are granted furlough. "It's a good way to ease them back into the community."

Tyler says, "Our inmates all have families out in the community who sometimes get sick and pass away." But she says furloughs come with strict rules and regulations. "They are only a few hours long, they have to be escorted, the family has to pay for the cost of the law enforcement officers who escort them, and they have to come back."

Tyler says furloughs are not only humanitarian, but necessary. "Imagine you're locked up, you don't want to be there, you're facing a long sentence, and your mom is dying. Then your mom dies, and you can't even go to the funeral. Your behavior in prison would be atrocious, so to save ourselves that problem, we grant emergency furloughs."

Reese could even get emergency furlough again in the future.

Less than 1% of inmates earn a meritorious furlough for good behavior. If they do, they can have one every 6 months for 5 days.

Tyler says furloughs are the right thing to do and are a good tool to manage inmates. Furloughs are going on all the time and Tyler says they go very well.
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