During his weekly news briefing Thursday, Governor Asa Hutchinson addressed the issue of prison space in Arkansas and touched on how the state Department of Corrections plans to handle the issue.
Hutchinson said that over the past two years, the Department of Corrections had seen a decline in prison population, but that the decline was “artificial.” He explained that COVID-19 created a restraint on bringing inmates into the system, and instead, current projections show that the population of prison inmates will continue to increase over the next 10 years.
“The first responsibility of government is public safety,” said Hutchinson. “I look at our prison population and we need to address the issue of adequate space.”
The Governor will reportedly be supporting a plan to utilize part of the surplus to expand the North Central Unit in Calico Rock to add about 498 additional prison beds. Hutchinson said the cost has not been fully estimated, but is hopeful it will be around $60 million.
Governor Hutchinson also presented the latest COVID-19 report for the state of Arkansas, noting that active cases had been cut in half over the last week. As of Thursday, there were 1,825 new cases in the last 24 hours. Active cases were down 2,790 for a total of 24,274, and there were 10 deaths due to COVID-19.
Vaccinations had slowed down, with only 17,000 doses given over the last week. Vaccinations reported Thursday saw 3,865 more doses given in the last 24 hours.
Hospitalizations had decreased by 66 over the last 24 hours with patients on ventilators decreasing by five.
Photo/Data Credit: JFA Associates Simulation Model