WASHINGTON — District of Columbia Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. declared a 90-day state of emergency in the city's chronically overcrowded prison system Friday, beginning a process that could open jail doors for 350 inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes.
City corrections officials said there were 7,950 inmates in city facilities Friday, putting the district 631 over capacity. The prison population is increasing by 150 to 200 inmates a month, they said.
Barry's action came in the face of increasing pressure from a federal judge and despite heated opposition from Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.), who represents the northern Virginia area that includes the city-run Lorton Reformatory.
Parris has introduced legislation in Congress to revoke the mayor's emergency powers, saying the early release would send hundreds of "dangerous criminals" into the community.