Arkansas Community Corrections Proposes Nearly $9 Million In Reentry Funds

Oct 20, 2014

Prisoners play basketball near the Arkansas Correctional School in Pine Bluff.
Credit Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Community Corrections presented a proposal for transitional  centers for ex-offenders to a legislative joint committee Monday. The plan would provide 800 transitional beds statewide over two years at a total cost of nearly $9 million. 

Sheila Sharp of the Community Corrections said that could help ease prison crowding as it looks to release inmates and avoid recidivism.

“We would like to take them a year out and for at least six months put them in a program to help them get the ID they need, to get their social security card, to get a job or to get the marketable skill or education they need to be successful in the community,” said Sharp.

In 2013, there was a spike in imprisonment in the state- with over 9,000 admissions, a 50 percent increase from 2012, after the state cracked down on parole violators.  Few of those inmates have yet to be released. 

“[With] he transitional re-entry beds, we hope we can work with all the law enforcement, with prosecutors, with judges in those communities. We think we can be successful with having an offender actually have a job then, before they are turned out into the community, and a place to live,” said Sharp.  

Sharp says she hopes the residential re-entry programs will help high-risk inmates find employment and mentorship, and settle back into their communities of residence.