5 YEAR JAIL BED MORATORIUM
below in the form that follows
LIST YOUR NAME OR ORGANIZATION NAME FOR INCLUSION TO THE MORATORIUM LETTER TO BENTON & WASHINGTON COUNTY - LET'S INVEST IN COMMUNITY SO WE CAN ALL THRIVE
BENTON & WASHINGTON COUNTY 5-YEAR JAIL MORATORIUM - A REQUEST FOR REAL INVESTMENT IN OUR COMMUNITY
SIGN ON AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANIZATION
At this time, both Benton & Washington county elected officials have made public the intent to ask for a $240 million jail & court expansion in Benton County and a $60 million dollar jail expansion in Washington County on the ballot to voters. Why do we disagree with this route? These astounding financial burdens on taxpayers are being requested without full diligence into alternative investments that could reduce the amount of individuals in jail and serve as a way to uplift and keep families together. Washington county has had in its hands a roadmap to these alternatives since August of 2020 and those same findings are relevant in Benton County as well.
Major community considerations:
Economic costs. Every innocent person (pretrial) accused and waiting in jail on their court date cannot contribute to the economy. They cannot provide for their children, pay their rent, or other obligations. Releasing the 400 - 500 pretrial that sit in both Benton & Washington county sends 1,000 more folks back into the workforce which is much needed.
Ineffectiveness. Data shows that even a day spent in jail is enough to destabilize an individual and increases the likelihood that they will commit future crimes
Unconstitutionality. Imprisonment violates the Constitution in several ways: bail is unconstitutional because it denies the poor equal protection under the law and the practice of incarcerating innocent pretrial community members is at odds with the presumption of innocence.
Alternatives. Proven studies and research along with well developed programs in neighboring counties have shown that there are viable and affordable investments that can be made to address the root cause of many of the woes of those in jail today: poverty, homelessness, need for recovery & mental health services
Opportunity cost -- the purpose of the jail is to keep the community safe; however, there are better ways to do this than to expand the jail. For most points in time, the majority of the folks in the county jail are in on non-violent charges. This means that the county jail is not overincarcerated with people that pose a threat to safety - it is overincarcerated many who are in jail pre-trial because they
a) are too poor to pay bail, (b) failed to appear at court, or (c) are mentally ill.
Here at Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition, we will move forward policies and investments that will end mass incarceration led by the voice & power of the individuals and families impacted. Settling for no less than ending systems that cause harm & purposefully building with the community healing & caring investments in our future wellbeing.
WAYS WE HELP
Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition will show up for our community in the following ways:
Aligning with other orgs and individuals and identify areas for collaboration and finding new areas that we can fill response need - coalition building
Honoring and amplifying the voices of victims of injustice
LEGISLATIVE & POLICY ADVOCACY
With this initiative, our goal is to stop the harm in place with current laws & policy. Instead, we are focused on appropriate responses to unmet needs in our community for poverty, homelessness, mental health, recovery services. Learn more about our work by getting in touch with our team today.
DIRECT COMMUNITY WORK
With our organization’s mission always in mind, we strive to connect directly in our community to create solutions of aid together via food networks, warrant clinics, pardon clinics, car clinics, etc. Contact us to learn more about our commitment to this cause.
EDUCATION & NARRATIVE CHANGE
At Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition, we are dedicated to putting tools into the hands of all Arkansans to advocate against oppressive policies & laws. We are always striving to make a difference, and invite you to learn more and lend your support.