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Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders condemns Board of Corrections, calls for more prison space

An inside shot of the Moose Lake prison.
Caroline Yang
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is calling on the Arkansas Board of Corrections to increase the number of prison beds in the state.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders held a press conference Friday to condemn the state's Board of Corrections.

The Department of Corrections asked for hundreds more prison beds for jails across the state, but the Board of Corrections only approved part of the request. The governor says they are 200 beds short, which she called “unacceptable.”

"For far too long there has been a revolving door in our state prison system,” she said. “Criminals commit crimes, get sentenced by the court system and then, because of a shortage of bed space, are let back out on the streets with just a slap on the wrist.”

Earlier this year, lawmakers passed the “Protect Act.” The law requires violent criminals to serve most of their sentences before getting out of prison, and many Arkansas jails are experiencing overcrowding.

Attorney General Tim Griffin read from the Board of Corrections website, saying the recent decision to not add the beds makes Arkansans less safe.

“The purpose of the Board of Corrections is to manage correctional resources in the state such that offenders are held accountable for their actions. Failure,” he said. “Victims' needs are addressed in a positive manner. Failure. And the safety of society is enhanced. Failure. They failed.”

Prisons in Malvern and Calico Rock will be getting new beds, while a maximum-security prison in Pine Bluff was not approved for more beds.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.