August 14, 2012
Mr. John Smith
P.O. Box 1995
Forrest City, AR
Dear Mr. Smith:
I want to take this opportunity to discuss some concerns I
have with Arkansas’ prison system. Consider
this. The ADC’s annual budget is
approximately $350 million for 15,188 inmates.
That’s $23,000 per year per inmate and doesn’t include the rising
medical costs for inmates with severe medical issues. That’s money that could be spent on
rehabilitation, educating our children, building Arkansas’ economy and
re-building our infrastructure.
Currently the prison system focuses on negative
reinforcement instead of positive. About
the only state- sponsored programs are Substance Abuse Treatment Programs, GEDs
and Anger Management programs.
Even inmates nearing release are not transitioned to be
productive members of society. They are
not taught life skills and how not to re-offend. Wouldn’t it be better to spend money to
decrease the recidivism rate instead of housing inmates into old age?
Why are we doing the same thing and expecting a different
result each time?
Perhaps it is time to let the Parole Board do its job and remove
the Governor from the parole system process.
The Board is quite capable of reviewing inmates on a case by
case basis and deciding which ones have been sufficiently rehabilitated (usually
self-rehabilitated) and can be safely
returned to their communities. Currently
the Governor receives a non-binding recommendation of clemency from the Parole
Board. But don’t you think it violates
the fiduciary responsibility of the Governor to refuse the recommendations of
the Parole Board? How can one person
control the lives of so many? Parole-eligible inmates are not given the
opportunity to show they have been rehabilitated.
In your future dealings with crime and punishment, I ask
that you consider a different approach, one that allows for the possibility of
parole for inmates serving life, life without parole and “natural life”
sentences. One that allows for all
humans to retain within themselves the spark of redemption. These sentences ultimately deny the humanity
in all of us.
(your name & address)