HomeArkansas newsArkansas pushes for expansion of prison capacity

Arkansas pushes for expansion of prison capacity

Arkansas – Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and state legislature members are urging the Arkansas Board of Corrections to significantly increase prison space. This call for action stems from concerns over the current capacity and safety issues within the state’s prison system.

Governor Sanders held a press conference on Friday morning, emphasizing the urgency for the Board of Corrections to hold an emergency meeting. The primary objective of this meeting would be to approve an additional 500 prison beds. This move comes in the wake of the Board’s decision last week to deny Secretary Joe Profiri’s request to open these beds.

Highlighting the state’s challenges, Governor Sanders pointed out the lenient penalties for violent criminals in Arkansas and the overcapacity problem plaguing the state prisons. She noted that while there are 16,000 available prison beds, there are about 18,000 criminals who need incarceration, illustrating a clear disparity between available resources and demands.

Earlier in the year, Governor Sanders had signed legislation for the construction of a new prison with a capacity of 3,000 beds. Despite efforts by Secretary Profiri to introduce 1,000 new beds, the Board of Corrections has recently been reluctant to approve additional spaces.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin supported Governor Sanders’ stance, expressing concerns that the Board’s actions compromise the safety of Arkansans.

The Department of Corrections spokesperson revealed a significant gap between the requested and approved additional beds. While 622 beds were requested, the Board only sanctioned 130. Furthermore, the DOC highlighted an ongoing issue with staffing, noting a 17.2% vacancy rate for correctional officers and an existing need for more than 900 prison staff.

This situation underscores the growing challenges in managing the state’s prison system, balancing the need for public safety with the limitations of current facilities and resources. Governor Sanders’ call for immediate action reflects a broader effort to address these challenges promptly and effectively.

Olivia Martinez

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