Arkansans Organizing 4 Justice

August 14, 2012


Mr. John Smith

P.O. Box 1995

Forrest City, AR  72335


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.



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