If you’ve opened social media or read a newspaper in Arkansas in the last two years, you’re well aware: the state is undergoing a massive crime crisis. But what often gets lost in the headlines that focus on the sensational details are the people–the victims and their families–whose lives are changed forever.
Imagine it was your family members who were killed in a senseless shooting in Conway last month.
Or that it was your brother who was slaughtered in a community park in North Little Rock.
Or your dad who was coming to visit you at the hospital, but never left, being shot dead.
These are just a few of hundreds of examples from the recent past. And these are our friends and neighbors. There are people on the other end of those bullets. People who have now been robbed of opportunity.
And there’s no end in sight.
Today, 216 Arkansans will be the victim of a property crime, and 55 will be the victim of a violent crime. And the same will occur tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. This has become the norm.
Here are some quick stats that should (but may not) shock you:
Unfortunately, long-standing state policies have contributed to this jarring reality.
In Arkansas today, many inmates--even those convicted of serious crimes--are allowed early release because of “good behavior” or because they completed a program.
Once an inmate is free, there is too little effort made to reintegrate them into society.
And Arkansas even has a law on the books that allows the near-automatic release of inmates when prisons get too crowded.
Let's call these what they truly are: failed policies of the past. They are what got us here. And it is long-past time we abandoned them for some commonsense, homegrown solutions to stem the wave of rising crime.
What are those solutions? I’m glad you asked.
The solutions are right in front of our eyes. And given the growing nature of the crisis, it is long-past time Arkansas policymakers act.