Pulaski County District 7 JP Pat Dicker, whose term ends in January, is hoping to go out with a bang, by implementing a plan she hopes will keep young people from winding up in jail.
Based on a similar program in Kansas, the idea is to give at-risk youth a series of tests to identify their personal problem areas and allow officials to target those needs before they turn criminal. As Dicker envisions it, a coalition of experts from the Pulaski County sheriff's office, UAMS, UALR, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the Arkansas Department of Human Services and other organizations would be integral to making it work.
"We've got to stop this cycle," Dicker said. "We can't keep building jails and prisons. If we can establish a way of identifying and then working with the folks that could benefit, certainly society would be the bigger benefactor."
Dicker is working with Pulaski County Community Services on the plan, trying to get her fellow Quorum Court members to agree to a feasibility study and looking for funding for the study, perhaps from the state legislature.
Add this to the city's funding obligations: The Little Rock Police Pension Board still wants the city to pay it $500,000 it says it owes the Little Rock Police Pension Fund for the years 1995-2005. The fund is separate from the Little Rock police and firefighter pension funded by state insurance turnback money, which has come up $587,000 short. City Manager Bruce Moore said last week the city didn't owe the money because a statute of limitations had run, a position the board contests.