Felons for cleanliness 

Felons for cleanliness

People are always coming up with ideas about using convict labor for the public good. Some of these are better than others. (Was it the Farm Bureau that wanted to assign convicts to turpentine stray cats?)

Governor Mike Beebe has put forward a seemingly sound proposal. Offended by the trash that teems on Arkansas roadsides, Beebe wants to release prison inmates from confinement 30 to 60 days ahead of schedule so that they can pick up litter along the state's roads.

Arkansas has a massive litter problem, especially for one that calls itself “The Natural State” and boasts of its beauty. Beebe says that well-meaning but careless Arkansans throw empty fertilizer bags into the back of their pickups, not noticing when the bags blow out. More cynical observers suspect that some Arkansans just don't care that they're befouling their state, and may even believe there's a constitutional right to do so. Mild anti-litter statutes are on the books. They appear to have little effect, and probably should be strengthened.

In the meantime, Beebe's plan deserves a try. We'll suggest an addition. Put some of the cleanup crews to work at the highway rest stops that are such an embarrassment. Maybe the convicts won't be able to repair the out-of-order toilets and water fountains and vending machines, but they can at least report them. They surely can mop the floors and cover some of the worst graffiti and generally make the centers a little less frightening to tourists.


Let the people vote

The United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, has upheld an Indiana law requiring voters to show current government-sponsored photographic identification before they can cast a ballot. The Arkansas legislature rejected a similar bill last year. Proponents now say they'll try again, but their bill is no better and deserves no better fate.

In practice, “government-sponsored photo identification” means a driver's license or passport. The voters most likely to be lacking such documents are the elderly, the poor, blacks and Latinos. Uncoincidentally, these are people who tend to vote Democratic. Partisan advantage, not honest elections, is the purpose of these Republican-sponsored photo ID laws that get upheld by Republican-majority courts.

There's been no showing of widespread voter fraud on an individual basis in either Indiana or Arkansas. Fraud at the wholesale level, involving voting machines and election officials, is more likely and may well have occurred in the last two presidential elections. If reform of voting procedures is needed, that's the place to start.    



Sign up for the Daily Update email


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Week That Was

    • The other worrisome one is the one with the email of 'zyklonwolf', which any historically…

    • on April 23, 2018
  • Re: Week That Was

    • Steven, Thank you for your kind invite, however, I have relocated to the other Arkansas,…

    • on April 22, 2018
  • Re: Week That Was

    • Nice hyperbole and exaggeration, Oaf, but we all know how blown out the parody of…

    • on April 22, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation