Here in Region 8, prison overcrowding is a real problem. Arkansas' prison population jumped nearly 18 percent in the past year. Eight-teen percent!
The state pointed to two factors: more parole violators were sent back to prison and more nonviolent offenders were given jail time instead of probation. The changes came after a repeat parole violator was charged with murdering a Little Rock teenager.
We all want the bad guys locked up - but at some point we're going to have to build new prisons. How much are we willing give in tax dollars to make that happen?
Here's the problem - Arkansas ranks in the top ten in how many people per capita are behind bars. At some point we have to look at how to steer folks away from a life of crime. What are we willing to spend to make that happen? You can't save everyone, but you can't lock everyone up either.
At some point, we're going to have to figure out how to keep our communities safe today and in the future without locking everyone up, or finding ways to make more room.
It will make this a Better Region 8.