Prisons: More Rooms for The Big House

Alternative prisons spring up

In Connecticut, the department of correction is experimentally using two National Guard barracks as a temporary jail for drunken drivers. In Missouri and Oregon, prison authorities have renovated mental hospitals to house convicted felons. In New Jersey, where inmates have been sleeping in gymnasiums, classrooms and a chapel, officials are considering buying a World War II Navy troopship to use as a prison. Meanwhile, New York City is readying a second decommissioned Staten Island ferryboat to moor alongside the Vernon C. Bain, which has housed up to 162 prisoners on the East River since March.

Across the nation, law-enforcement officials are...