A federal judge Thursday fined the state $164,250 for prison overcrowding and ordered that the money be used to set up a bail fund for indigent defendants.

U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Pettine ruled the state was in contempt of court for failing to limit to 250 the number of prisoners awaiting trial in an intake unit.Overcrowding at Rhode Island's only jail for inmates awaiting trial has been a problem for years, but mushroomed last year after the Legislature passed laws allowing drug defendants to be held without bail.

The Corrections Department, under pressure from Pettine, opened two annexes to the intake unit, but has been unable to keep up with the exploding population. Construction of a new prison building has been stalled by local opposition in Cranston, where the Adult Correctional Institutions complex is located.