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Arkansas gubernatorial candidate talks criminal law policies

The tough criminal law policies authored in prior decades that are still in force across much of the country have been harshly criticized of late by commentators across a broad social and political swath.

The Obama administration, for example, has voiced concerns with the notably lengthy prison terms meted out to many nonviolent and first-time offenders convicted of drug crimes. Mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines have played a central role in many of those sentencing outcomes, and they are under fire, with many people calling for their repeal.

Additionally, critics on both sides of the political aisle on Capitol Hill and in many state legislatures are now aligning in agreement that alternatives to prison need to be developed and nurtured (for example, drug courts and educational programs) to help curtail prison populations and costs.

Such subjects readily come to mind in the Arkansas gubernatorial contest, with an election scheduled for this November.

One principal candidate is Republican Asa Hutchinson, a formal federal prosecutor, who recently announced a plan that he says will promote public safety.

Hutchinson’s game plan seems to reveal a politician that is seeking to carefully balance a tough-on-crime stance with an open mind toward exploring processes that transcend mere prison lock up.

On the one hand, Hutchinson supports committing as much as $1 million in extra funds annually to Arkansas’ parole system. He also says he is not averse to building a new prison if that is necessary “to make sure that our violent criminals get off the streets of Arkansas.”

On the other hand, though, the would-be governor says he supports extra funding for drug courts and that he would not seek to overturn a recent law aimed at curbing prison overcrowding through sentencing revisions.

As we have noted in past posts, sentencing laws are in flux and being hotly debated across the country presently, with outcomes in drug cases being highly variable among the states.

In Arkansas, sentencing for a drug-related conviction can be harsh. A proven drug crimes attorney can provide a person facing a drug offense with a strong defense aimed at promoting a best-case outcome.

Source: Arkansas News, "Hutchinson unveils plan to address violent crime, drugs," John Lyon, May 27, 2014

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