Just now reading Rob Moritz's story on the Arkansas Department of Correction's need for $1.1 million for 300 new beds. A legislative panel OK'd the expense yesterday after learning that the state's prison population is now 16,183.
Pew Research Center Pew Center on the States brief adds some unpleasant truths to Arkansas's incarceration costs. The number of prisoners — which DOC spokesperson Dina Tyler rightly called "crazy" — is double what it was 20 years ago. Arkansas spends around $350 million a year, about 8 percent of the general budget, locking folks up. Pew predicts Arkansas's prison population to grow by 43 percent and cost $1.1 billion between now and 2020.
Reasons: More people going to prison rather than probation, non-violent offenders serving longer terms.
Asked why the past ninth months has seen a spike in incarceration, Tyler said she didn't know. It's a good thing that the state has called on Pew's Public Safety Performance Review team for answers that will help a working group develop reforms to be addressed in the 2011 session.