The US criminal justice system was put in place to protect the innocent and punish the offenders. When the system runs effectively, recidivism rates are low, punishments fit the crime, and people are safe. Unfortunately, the current criminal justice system has not been working for the people of Arkansas.
To reform the criminal justice system in our state, we must focus on three basic principles:
Fairness: For years, the system has disproportionately targeted minorities and those who cannot afford to pay court fines and fees. A working criminal justice system does not punish people for being poor or being a person of color. We need to ensure that the punishments applied fit the crime and the law is being applied fairly.
Rehabilitation: It is critical that we keep Arkansas’ prison education program intact. Arkansas has an expansive prison education program and we need to make sure we continue to participate in the Pell program. However, education is not enough. We must work to rehabilitate prisoners from their addictions.
Prevention: Part of investing in our children is ensuring they are equipped to make good decisions. Arkansas’ juvenile diversionary programs are working to do just that, but they desperately need to be expanded. We need to be sure that we are working with our community partners to mentor and invest in our youth so they don’t turn to crime.
As Governor, Ricky would work to: