Arkansas Prisons

The Arkansas House has endorsed a key part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's criminal justice reform plan to help ease overcrowding at county jails.

Lawmakers voted 79-5 Tuesday to allow the state to partner with county jails on regional facilities to help clear the backlog of more than 2,600 state inmates at the facilities. It also allows inmates to apply for Medicaid benefits and provides avenues for them to enroll in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.

Hurdles Remain To Resume Arkansas Death Penalty Process

Mar 23, 2015

The Arkansas Supreme Court's decision upholding a 2013 lethal injection law clears a major hurdle to resuming the death penalty in a state that hasn't executed an inmate in a decade. But the path is by no means clear for capital punishment to make a return to Arkansas. A narrowly divided court overturned a Pulaski County judge's ruling that the Legislature's most-recent rewrite of Arkansas' execution law violated the state constitution by allowing the Correction Department to decide which barbiturate to use when putting inmates to death.

An Arkansas House committee has endorsed a key part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to overhaul the state prison system and reduce overcrowding at county jails.

The House Judiciary Committee in a voice vote Thursday advanced the bill to the full House. It allows the state to partner with county jails on regional facilities to help clear the backlog of more than 2,600 state inmates at county jails. It also allows inmates to apply for Medicaid benefits and provides avenues for them to enroll in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.

Arkansas Supreme Court Upholds State's Lethal Injection Law

Mar 19, 2015

The right of the Arkansas Department of Correction to select a chemical used in executions does not violate state law or separation of powers, the state’s highest court ruled Thursday.

Talk Business & Politics

With state lawmakers gearing up for a continuation of their debate over changes to the state’s prison system, sentencing guidelines, and parole and probation protocol, there is a push for more transparency to the convoluted and complicated process of criminal justice.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs Monday evening at 6:06 on KUAR, Sens. David Sanders and Jeremy Hutchinson and Rep. John Vines discussed what they see as problems and potential solutions to the challenge.

Talk Business & Politics

Last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson unveiled his plan to reform the state’s prison, parole and probation programs in a holistic, comprehensive effort to reduce crime, stem repeat offenders and curtail a high-growth area of the state’s budget. The price tag for Hutchinson’s plan is $64 million with about $32 million being spent in the next two years.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced a $64 million plan to address overcrowding at the state’s prisons. At a press conference Wednesday, Hutchinson said he would open nearly 800 prison beds, hire new probation and parole officers and create alternative sentencing and reentry programs for some of the state’s roughly 2,500 inmates held in county jails.

The governor described his plan as a mix between an investment in prison space and an effort to reduce the state’s recidivism rate of 43 percent. 

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson plans to discuss proposals aimed at easing the overcrowding of thousands of state inmates at county jails.

Hutchinson planned a news conference Wednesday to discuss prison reform efforts, a major issue looming over the legislative session that began last month.

Hutchinson has said he's committed to finding money to open additional bed space for the inmates crowding local jails.

Corrections officials have said they need a 1,000-bed new prison, but legislative leaders say they've found little support for that proposal.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he is committed to finding funding for additional space for thousands of state inmates crowding local jails.

Hutchinson told a group of county judges on Monday that any plan addressing prison overcrowding must include the additional space but said he wanted to avoid constructing the 1,000-bed prison corrections officials have said they need.

Arkansas House members are supporting a proposal that would let family members of murder victims witness executions in-person.

Lawmakers voted 95-0 Monday to permit adult family members to attend the execution of a person convicted of killing a relative. The proposal keeps an attendance cap of 30 but provides an exception for family members.

Relatives of victims can currently ask to watch via closed-circuit television in a prison office.

Pages