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Impending prison crisis

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Dear editor:

Arkansas taxpayers should prepare for the impending crisis coming in the very near future. Governmental leaders are going to have to make critical decisions as it pertains to the growing state prison population.

A recent Arkansas corrections task force has estimated that, at the current rate, the Arkansas prison population will grow from a present number of approximately 18,000 inmates, to over 20,000 by the year 2020.

In 2017, ADC numbers show that our prison system is at 107 percent capacity. The ADC and associated prison agencies will be pressuring the state Legislature, the governor and the Arkansas taxpayers for additional state moneys to build extra prison facilities and corresponding additions in prison support staff.

No one, from the average Arkansas citizen, to the governor, wants to be soft on crime. However, all citizens should be aware that much of the increasing numbers of incarcerated inmates and demands for increased facilities could be taken care of with existing tax moneys and prison policies and facilities.

Arkansas Community Corrections and the Arkansas Parole Board have been conservative in allowing nonviolent inmates to parole out in the past few years. Executive and judicial oversight officials should make sure that parole denials and violation of parolees are not artificially enlarging and maintaining prison populations to be used as a political lever to show need for expanding expensive facilities and personnel.

The main problem involved is that the average Arkansas taxpayer cares very little about the Arkansas prison system and the numbers involved until they realize that increasing state tax money taken from the state budget could be used for early childhood education, Medicaid benefits, state infrastructure improvements and the cutting of already heavy tax burdens.

Allison Rust

Glenwood

Editorial on 12/07/2017

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