Progressive Arkansas has been previewing all Arkansas state Senators as part of their 35 Senators in 35 Days series. Today was Senator Jim Luker who opined on, among other things, prison overcrowding:
In his career as a senator, Luker has become best known for his work on prison reform, a topic that will be at the forefront in the coming session. How should the state address the rampant overcrowding? “There’s no question about decriminalizing or legalizing anything,” he says. “It doesn’t seem to make any sense to do that.” Luker says the state can cut recidivism (repeat offenders landing in jail multiple times) by strengthening parole supervision and requiring ex-prisoners to participate in addiction or mental health programs.
“We’re not the first to be faced with these decisions,” he notes. “The other states going through [the reforms he has mentioned] have gotten good results. Texas’ prison population had just gotten out of control, and about four years ago they went a little different direction with the kind of measures we’re speaking of, and it has paid off for them with better results at less cost.”
Whatever reforms the legislature implements, though, Luker says it must also put a system in place for monitoring the changes. “We can’t just implement some things and then just walk off and assume they’re being taken care of,” he says.
The entire series is definitely worth a read if for no other reason than it illustrates a huge difference between the state House and the state Senate (in that the latter has fewer nutjobs than the former).