The majority of the prison population in Arkansas consists of returning parole violators, and, moreover, almost half of released prisoners return within three years. According to the Council of State Governments Justice Center, from 2012 to 2015 the number of prisoners increased from 6,168 to 10,462, and from 2009 to 2015, the amount of parole revocations increased from 2,398 to 5,690. Arkansas has made a visible effort to decrease recidivism by, for example, increasing the amount of parole officers. That’s a temporary solution. The “ban the box” campaign, a policy that requests employers consider qualifications before criminal records, requires the provision of conviction history later in the employment process to inhibit discrimination that may have occurred despite qualifications. It is prevalent in states such as California and Colorado, both of which have lower incarceration rates than Arkansas. Criminal activity indicates the possibility of re-offense, which is important for an employer to acknowledge, but it should not be considered until elimination based on discrimination is no longer a possibility. However, for this to work Arkansas must address the lack of education given to prisoners who cannot pay. Education in prisons has been neglected for years. In 2015, 40 percent of the prison population lacked a high school diploma. After all, in order to be considered an equal to competitors, one must have the qualifications to do so.
Teach sex ed
Arkansas is one of 26 states in the United States that don’t require schools teach to sex education to some extent. Arkansas also had the second highest teen pregnancy rate and the highest teen birth rate in 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute. While it is true that trends in teen pregnancies have been decreasing over the years, Arkansas has consistently stayed one of the highest. This can be attributed to the fact that, according to Arkansas law, if a school offers sex education and information on STDs, it must stress premarital abstinence. This policy needs to change. Arkansas needs comprehensive, medically accurate and religiously unbiased sexual education for high school students. This can easily fit into the high school health class that all Arkansas students are required to take before they are allowed to graduate from high school. Implementing this across the state will help lower Arkansas’s teen pregnancy and birth rate. As Arkansans, we need to put aside our discomfort with sex education and think of what is best for our youth — giving them the tools to become sexually healthy and responsible adults.
From the web
In response to “The legacy of William Harold Flowers” (Feb. 1):
I had the privilege of meeting and knowing Harold Flowers in the mid 1970s. He was interested and supportive of an effort by the United Methodist Church to establish a multicultural church in Little Rock. The Hunter Memorial UMC was relocating from its MacArthur Park building to a new building on Romine Road in West Little Rock. A progressive young minister was assigned to lead this effort, and shortly after opening the new building, Harold Flowers and his wife (and often his family) began to drive from Pine Bluff to the new Hunter UMC on Sunday mornings. In addition to attending, he was often called on to preach, as a relief to the minister. At the time he was somewhat handicapped, and walked hesitantly with a cane. In the pulpit, he would thump his cane on the floor for emphasis in his sermons. It would have been difficult, if one were so inclined, to let your mind wander during his sermons. We have never forgotten Mr. Flowers, and have many warm memories of a dynamic yet very wise elder statesman. [UA Little Rock] Prof. [John] Kirk’s biography was a pleasure to read, and bring back these memories
This is a very informative article. I first heard of Mr. Flowers in the early 1950s when a white, segregationist acquaintance at the University of Arkansas, who was from Pine Bluff, started raving and ranting about this “troublemaker from Pine Bluff.” I did not know that he was as instrumental in the civil rights movement as he was. I am glad to see that his daughter carries on the cause.
Thank you for sharing this story and the photographs. There is a lot I don’t know about that time period in Arkansas. State Rep. Vivian Flowers gave a short speech at the Women’s March On the Polls in January. I had not heard her speak before and was impressed with her speaking skills. She was concise, articulate and to the point. She said what needed to be said. I am glad she and Stephanie Flowers are in the state legislature.
In response to “Inspired by LBJ” (Feb. 1), Ernest Dumas’ column about Gov. Orval Faubus, President Lyndon Johnson and President John F. Kennedy:
I have posted this before, but in present context, it bears repeating. In the summer of 1965, at Arkansas Boys State, Orval Faubus came and gave a talk one evening. Much of what he said I do not remember, but one thing he said was that someone had asked him how to win cases at the Arkansas Supreme Court. Faubus replied, “Just talk and talk and talk until you turn black in the face.” I am ashamed to admit that the boys there gave him a standing ovation. I am proud to claim that I was not one of those who stood. deadseasquirrel
In response to the Feb. 3 Arkansas Blog post “Tom Cotton: It’s the immigrants, not the economy, stupid”:
Yes, it is OK to be a bigot in today’s political world! And, it is almost mandatory that if you plan to remain on the national political scene for very long you become a LYING LIAR! Plus, you need to either literally bow down or at least figuratively bow down to show how much you respect President Trump, and NEVER QUESTION ANYTHING he may say or do! You must show you have utter disdain for your constituents by consistently voting against their interests and welfare. Sen. Tom (Rotten) Cotton has definitely proven he has all of those detestable qualities, and even more! I say we can find someone better than that to be our U.S. senator!
Looking at that mug shot of Rotten Cotton I don’t see even 1 percent Native American heritage. That makes him an illegal immigrant (yep, me too!) who never got permission from Native Americans, the real Americans, to live here. So the “Americans” Rotten sees all around him are, like him, illegals from Europe and elsewhere. I looked up the definition of “close-minded” in Webster’s. Tom “Rotten” Cotton as the answer.
Braying senator “war hero” is on the wrong side of the issue (except for his base of those “fine folks”); 75 percent support DACA and a majority want a comprehensive immigration bill containing a path-to-citizenship provision. Folks are starting to get the idea that racists like Tommy-boy use immigration as a handy tool to divide and conquer those of all colors who tend to oppose the Koch “rising tide” that’s lifting only 1 percent of the boats.
Let’s hope the pied piper Trump leads these lemmings off the cliff. Cotton assumes he is safe in his position and latching onto the psycho-in-chief. Follow him right down the toilet, like so many others in political history. McCarthy comes to mind; so does Mussolini. Trumpolini? I hold out hope that the ship will right, the country is changing and those that dislike the inevitable “browning” of our country will be embarrassing footnotes.
Sometimes wonder if Tom doesn’t get a severe case of claustrophobia while trapped inside the confines of his narrow mind, with its maze-like passages and so many dead ends.
Jake da Snake
In response to Autumn Tolbert’s Jan. 25 editorial on the implications of the Women’s March and the resistance to President Trump:
I saw what you saw Saturday at the March, Autumn, except in Little Rock, and the unity felt good, even though I am sorry the government has screwed up so badly the past year that I can no longer relax because I can’t trust my state or federal government not to take away more civil and human rights. I never used to do this, but each day I wake up and the first thing I do is check the computer to see if Trump blew some country up while I was asleep. Sad. Then I go work two low-paying jobs that keep people’s hours below 30 so they don’t have to offer insurance. Yes, I am tired, but nothing will change until we elect smart, caring human beings into office that we can trust to do the right thing. I am so amazed at the number of women who are running for office in 2018 in Arkansas.
I barely have time to read about politics anymore. That is why I appreciate the Arkansas Times.
People have different talents and skills. Some can contribute money to campaigns, some time, some write letters or make phone calls or bake cookies. Everyone can’t do everything all the time. But no matter how small your contribution, you are helping to get someone elected to office that will help improve job growth and that will fight for health care for families. We need a new state government so everyone in Arkansas has a chance to be self-sufficient and prosper, not just a select few. I think you are right about The Indivisibles and the Young Democrats being more active. Good. Thanks for your report from Fayetteville.