January 15, 2003
Posted at: 5:00 p.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The president of the state prosecutors association said Wednesday that alternative sentencing is a good idea to help rehabilitate offenders and ease prison overcrowding.
But Prosecutor H.G. Foster of Conway said softening mandatory sentences would send the wrong message to the public about the state's toughness on crime.
Foster said prosecutors are not convinced that easing mandatory sentencing would save the state prison system money, but are convinced of the value of rigid sentencing as a bargaining chip in plea negotiations.
Governor Huckabee has attributed the state's record prison population in part to laws that set mandatory sentences for nonviolent offenders, particularly drug abusers that could be diverted to alternative programs for rehabilitation.