Monday, January 3, 2011

Prison proposals come tomorrow

Posted By on Mon, Jan 3, 2011 at 2:25 PM

The results of a year of study of the Arkansas correction system and recommendations from a working group will be announced at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow by Gov. Mike Beebe and others.

Nothing like a desire to cut spending and taxes to enlist even law-and-order types in the cause of reducing the state's costly prison population. It is going to be interesting. I sense a much warmer outlook toward less punitive solutions for certain types of offenses, particularly drug violations. But it is past time for Arkansas to stop continuing to set a negative curve on corrections. Our prison-going rate has been increasing in the face of a national decline.

Even some prosecutors are talking about different approaches for non-violent offenders. But I see this problem lurking in public perception about alternatives to incarceration: Some of the people who are primarily drug offenders support drug habits with crime. Burglaries, for example These are, technically, non-violent crimes. But, I speak for many repeat burglary victims in saying they are not viewed benignly.

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