ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Criminal justice reform is a main priority for Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but the way she wants to go about it is bringing out opposition.
Criminal justice reform groups sent a letter to the governor and the legislature on Wednesday. Sarah Moore with the Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition said they want to see action to reduce prison overcrowding by investing in services that will keep people out of jail in the first place.
“We have to really make sure that when families are struggling to meet their basic needs, that we are wrapping services around them, that we’re helping to de-escalate situations for them that are stressors, that cause them to potentially get into things that would cause criminalization,” Moore said.
Moore said she would like to see more investment in sobering centers, crisis stabilization units, and helping out families before expanding prisons. In Gov. Sanders’ ‘SAFER’ plan announced before her inauguration, she highlights supporting law enforcement, increasing mental health programming, and adding prison space.
Republican State Senator Bart Hester said he fully supports spending more money to add prison beds, which he said will keep communities safe.
“We’ve got to make sure our kids are being educated and we got to make sure they’re safe,” Hester said.
Moore said she and others are open to sitting down with the governor and lawmakers to come up with solutions together.
You can read the full letter below.