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Governor Sanders unveiled a new, “tough but fair” jail reform plan



Little Rock, Arkansas – At a news conference held on Monday at the Capitol, Governor Sarah Sanders unveiled her proposal for prison reform, saying she hoped it would safeguard Arkansans and keep some violent offenders in jail for longer.

“I promised during my campaign that we would implement bold reforms for a safer, stronger Arkansas, and that is exactly what the Safer Stronger Arkansas legislative package will do,” she said.

Sanders summarized the bill’s three main objectives as increasing the number of police, jail beds, and victim rights.

She stated that building a new jail will cost around $470 million and provide 3,000 more prison beds to Arkansas.

Also, according to Sanders, future violent criminals will need to spend between 85% and 100% of their sentences.

“If you are a murderer, if you are a rapist, if you are an abuser, we will put you in prison and you’re going to stay there for a very, very long time,” Sanders said.

According to Sanders, Arkansas’ jail and criminal justice systems have a failed status quo, and this bill puts an end to it.

She added that the plan also includes $5 million for overtime pay for local police and $20 million to hire more law enforcement professionals.

The state will contribute $470 million toward the construction of the new facility, and an additional $31 million will need to be added each year.

Sanders stated that the law will establish a new set of rights for victims for their protection and privacy.

In response to the measure, the Democratic Party of Arkansas issued the following statement:

“In Governor Sanders’s limited, flawed view of criminal justice, there is no difference between a user of marijuana and a violent felon nor any willingness to pass bipartisan legislation to limit a violent person’s access to dangerous weapons. Her plan will not make Arkansas families safer.
If Arkansas really needs to lock up more people than many countries do, then we are failing, Building a new prison is just an admission of failure. Failure to care for children, failure to educate our people, failure to invest in Arkansas in all of the ways we know can prevent crime. Democrats in this legislative session and previous sessions have put forward bills to make Arkansas safer. Sanders’s plan will result in more nonviolent arrests, more mentally ill Arkansans in jail rather than in treatment, and less money for the services our people actually need.”

In her speech on Monday, Sanders referred to Arkansas’s prison system as a “revolving door,” highlighting the issue of criminals who ought to be in jail yet roaming free in our neighborhoods.

“Some will complain that these new punishments are too tough,” Sanders said. “To those critics, I say that’s Arkansas justice. It is tough, but it is fair.”


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