Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the governor of Arkansas, signs prisons reform into law
Little Rock, Arkansas – Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas signed a bill on Tuesday that will modernize prisons and make violent offenders accountable for their crimes.
The new prison reform bill, which was signed into law on Tuesday, not only mandates that offenders serve out the entirety of their terms but also has plans to build a new jail with 3,000 additional beds.
Some locals worry about the implications for incarcerated individuals who are currently eligible for release.
“Right now, I’m just trying to get an understanding of what’s going on”, Jessie Hatley, the brother of Brickey’s inmate Benny Hatley said.
Benny was found guilty of killing the two Cotton Plant police officers in a well-publicized murder trial that took place in Augusta in 1985. Benny, who is now 56 years old, was 16 years old at the time.
Benny was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole, however, this was later changed following a 2012 Supreme Court decision that outlawed the practice of giving teens who murder someone automatically life sentences.
“We kept fighting and fighting and fighting, and trying you know to get parole for him”, Hatley said. “And when the act came out, that’s when we really fought for him and they gave him parole.”
Those who are already set for parole, according to Senator Ben Gilmore, won’t be impacted.
“The goal is to certainly put an end to repeated violent crime and to push back on these folks that perpetrate those violent crimes in our community however, this bill does not impact anyone who’s already adjudicated,” Gilmore said.
Some Arkansans’ concerns about the measure also center on the funding sources and the reasons why they can’t be diverted to anything else. In response, Gilmore said, “There’s definite costs, whether it’s to our victims, whether it’s our communities, and a definite cost to our law enforcement if we don’t provide the tools to keep them safe.”
Jessie Hatley stated that she hopes to fulfill her mother’s dying request of one bringing her brother home by assisting other prisoners and their families in comprehending the legislation.
“Her wish was for me to take over. So, I’m taking over and gonna go as far as I can to help not only my brother, everyone else that needs that same help he’s looking for”, Hatley said.