Arkansas can reduce its prison population by 3,200 inmates over the next decade and save $875 million by holding offenders more accountable, reducing the number of low-risk drug offenders in prison, and expanding medical parole for terminally ill convicts, says a report from a working group aided by the Pew Center on the States report, the Arkansas News Bureau says.
If nothing is changed, the report said, the state's prison population will rise by as much as 43 percent, about 6,500 inmates by 2021. Gov. Mike Beebe, who created the working group that generated the report, hopes to have bills drafted and ready for the legislature by the middle of the regular session that convenes next Monday. “We must take action to curb the growth in our corrections system without compromising public safety. These recommendations will help us do that,” the governor said. Other recommendations include improving supervision of offenders on probation and parole, pilot programs that couple random drug testing with swift sanctions, and holding offenders accountable by improving victim restitution and raising probation fees.