Arkansas Representative Danny Watson

From the Office of State Representative Danny Watson

The Criminal Justice Efficiency and Safety Act is now one step closer to the Governor’s desk after the House voted in favor of the legislation this afternoon.

Because Arkansas has the num ber one incarceration growth rate in the country, several legislators have been working for two years to draft SB136.

This bill reforms the probation and parole system in the state and provides more access to mental health treatment in the criminal justice system.

Currently, an average of 1,600 people are incarcerated because their parole or probation was revoked for a non-violent misdemeanor.

This bill would allow for those who violate conditions of their parole by committing a minor violations (such as missing a meeting) to serve a 45 day program with the Department of Community Correction. Those who violate conditions by committing a non-violent misdemeanor would serve a 90 day program with the Department of Community Correction.

This bill also establishes 3 crises stabilization units in the state. Law enforcement will receive training in mental health crises intervention. The crises centers will provide another place to take individuals who have a crisis other than the county jail.

The House passed SB303 which provides more money to several school districts in the state for transportation.

The House also passed SB288 which would allow a school district to join with cities, counties, vocational-technical schools and even neighboring school districts to create workforce development centers. These centers would provide students, who may not want to pursue a degree, an opportunity to learn a technical skill such as welding.

The House will reconvene on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

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