Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross presented a crime plan at a news conference this morning.
He says it will reduce crime and ease crowded prisons, but he also says it will address domestic violence and child abuse, subjects (particularly domestic violence) where Democrats think they have an intrinsic edge over Republicans. (Think GOP opposition to the violence against women act.)
Ross, a former state senator and congressman, blends tougher sentences for repeat and violent offenders with what he says are smarter sentences for first-time, nonviolent and drug offenders.
He terms his idea on domestic abuse “historic.” He said he’d increase the state’s Domestic Peace Fund, which supports shelters for victims of domestic abuse, by putting a fee on criminals. The increased money would train law officers to better handle domestic violence. And he said he’d direct a report aimed at raising awareness of the issue.
He said he’d increase spending for the State Police Crimes Against Children Division by $1.28 million. He said the division hasn’t been able to add a hotline operator or investigator since 2008, though child abuse complaints have been rising.
In addition to tougher sentences for firearm theft and residential burglary, Ross said he’d increase spending on probation and parole officers by $8.5 million over four years. This could help alternative sentencing — electronic monitoring, drug courts, re-entry programs. This could reduce the prison population and save money.
Ross said his previously announced education and jobs programs also are, in their way, crime fighters by producing better opportunities for people. Better educated children are less likely to be arrested, he said.
Here’s the full Ross crime plan.
Republican Asa Hutchinson has a crime plan, too, with similar promises to get tough on the real bad guys and look for alternatives for others. His emphasized related thrust was continuing the drug war. Given that war’s failure — including on his watch in the Bush administration — and a general public understanding of that fact, an appeal to help women and children sounds potentially more promising.