Our View

Our View

Prisons should feel like prisons

Prison violence is an ongoing problem, and it isn’t just unique to Arkansas prisons but because the dangerous situation seems to have gotten out of control corrections officials have been forced to make some drastic changes, some of which probably should have been made some time ago.

As most of us know, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and many politicians have been opposed to repeated requests from corrections officials for a new prison based on the enormous costs involved in not only the construction but also operational expenses.

Alternative measures have been instituted to include the creation of rehabilitation programs, early probation for non-violent inmates eligible for early release, hiring additional probation officers as well as more emphasis on treating inmates with mental issues.

Despite the initiatives that also include the appropriation of more than $1 million into overtime pay since the start of the fiscal year on July 1 as well as hiring 68 more prison guards in September serious inmate violence has placed the safety of prison officials in jeopardy.

The Arkansas Board of Corrections just recently gave authority to the Department of Corrections to seek $6 million more tax dollars for overtime pay and the construction of fortified walls at the recreation areas of four prisons.

A $3.5 million bond request has been made to replace the recreation yard pens at the East Arkansas, Tucker Maximum Security, Cummins and Varner units.

In addition, the other funding step the board took was to give permission to seek authorization from the Legislature to spend $2.5 million more for over time.

Measures taken earlier this month, including 400 more isolation cells, called “restrictive housing”, the creation of “controlled access points inside the entrances to general population barracks”, and increased surveillance at prison entrances, seem to have drawn criticism from the liberal Little Rock Sen.

Joyce Elliott who called these actions “just more punishment” and publicly criticized the use of isolation.

It is obvious that Sen. Elliott advocates a “kinder and gentler” approach in dealing with these dangerous criminals who would not hesitate to cause injury or even kill a prison guard.

It has been proven, time and time again, that pandering to these left wing idealistic suggestions is completely asinine and simply ignores the fact that these prison officials are dealing with very dangerous convicted criminals who have murdered, raped and robbed and many of them would not hesitate to repeat their dastardly crimes if given the opportunity.

Turning our prisons into Hotel Hiltons, as Sen. Elliott may be suggesting, is absolutely hilarious.

Currently the Arkansas Department of Corrections has 2,191 isolation cells. With the addition of 400 more cells, isolation cells will be able to contain around 16 percent of the entire prison population.

Despite what Elliott may believe or those who think moving away from solitary confinement is the politically correct thing to do, we think such action only opens the door to additional prison violence and places the lives of every correctional officer in jeopardy.

The idea that solitary confinement violates international human rights is a bunch of malarkey.