WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than a hundred law enforcement executives from across the country, including Arkansas, were in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, to call for reducing crime by reducing unnecessary arrests.
These police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors have formed a new coalition called Law Enforcement Leaders To Reduce Crime and Incarceration. The group is operating under the premise, putting too many people behind bars does not keep the public safe.
They announced a new group that is pushing congress and state lawmakers for three things: alternatives to arrests, reducing the number of criminal laws, and ending mandatory minimum prison sentences.
"Well, I think in some instances their behavior has landed them in jail for the right reasons, but we think that the alternative measure is to be able to address some of those things specifically with mental illness, and those who have substance abuse whether it be alcohol or drug addiction," said Chief Kenton Buckner, Little Rock Police Department.
There are more people in prisons in the U.S. than in any other country in the world, 2.2 million people. According to a group calling for imprisonment reform, called The Sentencing Project, that's a 500% increase over the past 30 years.
Members of this group are scheduled to meet with President Obama Thursday.
According to the sentencing project, there are nearly 23,284 people incarcerated in Arkansas right now, and expenses for the state corrections department sit at $449 million.
The sentencing project also reports, the black to white ratio of prisoners in Arkansas is 3.9:1. There are 711 juveniles in custody.
For a closer look at research on incarceration in the United States, click here.
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