Arkansans Organizing for Justice (AOJ) is a grassroots movement that wants to encourage fairness in sentencing and to focus on those serving life, life without parole, and "natural life" sentences who could safely be returned to their communities.
In the past three decades, the number of prisons in
Arkansas has increased from three to more than twenty. Many of those in prison are serving life
terms. According to a 2009 report by the
Sentencing Project, over 13% or approx. 1,917
Arkansas inmates have life or life without parole. Those numbers expand dramatically when
considering inmates who are sentenced to a long term of years.
The increase in Arkansas’s prison population is a result
of the “tough on crime” political rhetoric.
Policies such as the 70% law, restrictions on the use of good time
allowance and a decrease in the use of parole and sentence commutation prove to
be a problem, rather than a solution.
Unreasonable policies such as these, use valuable
resources to warehouse inmates, many into old age, who could be safely returned
to their communities. The strain on the
state’s budget in areas such education and infrastructure is becoming a major concern.
Currently the prison budget exceeds one-third (1/3) of a billion
Another concern is that the majority of these funds are
needed for housing, clothing, food and medical costs of the inmate. Resources are very limited with regard to
rehabilitation of the prisoner while inside, as well as re-entry programs upon
release such as career training, job placement and housing.
collectively, we simply do not believe that these policies/ practices are
working or make us safer. The numbers in
re-arrests and recidivism are self-evident.