LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders along with members of the state legislature is calling on the Arkansas Board of Corrections to expand prison space.
Sanders held a press conference Friday morning calling on the board to convene an emergency meeting without delay to approve 500 additional prison beds. This announcement comes after the governor said the board denied Sec. Joe Profiri’s request to open the prison beds last week.
The governor said that Arkansas had weak penalties for violent criminals and overcapacity issues with the state prisons. She claims that there are currently 16,000 available prison beds compared to 18,000 criminals that need to be incarcerated.
Earlier this year, Sanders signed legislation to build a new 3,000-bed prison. Sanders said that Profiri has worked to open 1,000 new prison beds, but the board of corrections is now declining to approve additional beds.
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin also backed Sanders saying that the actions of the board “make Arkansans all around the state less safe.”
A spokesperson with the Department of Corrections said that the board only approved 130 of the requested prison beds. The DOC also noted that the vacancy rate for correctional officers has fallen 17.2%, but there’s still a need for more than 900 prison staff.