A correctional officer watching over many inmates eating lunch behind bars.
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Prison Population Cuts Necessary in Overcrowded Arkansas Prisons

Jared Henderson, a gubernatorial candidate, has proposed a 20% decrease in the Arkansas State prison population over the next eight years.

Overcrowding is one of the major challenges facing our prison system. With such high rates of mass incarceration, many prisons across the country are full and overcrowded.

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Some correctional facilities have been forced to create artificial cells to compensate. This is due to the high number of prisoners being brought into the facilities. The artificial cells have been made by converting recreational rooms into cells to hold the excess prisoners.

Effects of Overcrowding in Prisons

The overcrowding has led to poor conditions in many state correctional facilities. Some of the challenges caused by overcrowding in prisons include:

  • An increase in lawsuits
  • Limited resources
  • Resource strain
  • Increase in prison violence

Tight Arkansas Rules—the Reason Behind Overcrowding in the State Prisons

Overcrowding has been a real issue in Arkansas. For instance, in 2015, the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADOC) housed 19,000 inmates in the state’s facilities. That is 3,000 more than the number of inmates their facilities can handle.

The reason behind the overcrowding is the tough rules mandating very tight parole guidelines. The state prisons are filled with many inmates who are denied parole. There are inmates who are re-incarcerated because of minor parole violations.

The Population Decrease Proposal

A gubernatorial candidate has proposed a decrease in the Arkansas prison population. According to the Jared Henderson, Arkansas governor Democratic nominee, the prison population should be cut by 20%. According to the proposal, the population cut can be done gradually over the next eight years.

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Henderson’s proposal touches on increasing the number of probation and parole officers. According to him, this will go a long way in combating the growing correctional costs.

According to Henderson, reducing the inmate population helps offset the other aspects initial cost. His “other aspects” include hiring more correction officers in the community. With this, there would be no need to build a new $600 million facility.

Henderson’s proposal includes ways the prison population can be reduced within the given time frame.  The proposal includes:

  • De-prioritizing drug possession
  • Reducing technical violation punishment
  • Increasing mental illness treatment
  • Reducing the punishment for minor probation infringements
  • Increasing additional treatments
A correctional officer watching over many inmates eating lunch behind bars.
Overcrowding is a symptom of many issues in our prison system. However, discouraging through proper cuts and policies can help pave the way for proper improvements. Image Source: The Baxter Bulletin

Jared Henderson’s Proposal Critics

Henderson’s proposal has been criticized by the Republican Governor, Asa Hutchinson. A Hutchinson spokesman said Henderson’s proposal is dangerous and naive. According to the spokesman, Hutchinson has done many of the reforms in Henderson’s proposal.

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Abigael Shem
Abigael Shem has eight years of experience in academic, content, research and creative writing, editing and proofreading. Developing any type of content is now an easy task for her. When she's not writing, she enjoys singing, dancing, hiking, traveling and sports, especially football and basketball. Abigael currently writes news for prison loved ones on Prison Rideshare Network.