Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced a three-pronged plan to alleviate crowding in the state’s prisons, including opening nearly 800 new beds at various facilities, including one in Texas, reports Arkansas Online. Hutchinson said his plan, which includes hiring new parole and probation officers, creating the state’s first transitional reentry center program and offering some nonviolent offenders alternative sentences, will cost $32 million in the first two years. He described it as a $64 million plan in total, noting the first investment will be covered by a $31 million reserve at the state Insurance Department and $2.6 million from unclaimed property recruitments.
“This plan not only invests in more prison space, but it gives us a hope for changed behavior, more accountability and so that we are not having to build repeated 1,000 bed prisons,” Hutchinson said, saying it addresses an “urgent need.” The plan includes money to hire 52 new parole and probation officers, support staff and substance abuse treatment managers. “This will enhance public safety by reducing caseloads,” Hutchinson said. “It will enhance public safety by providing for more accountability of those that are on parole.”