Thursday, October 1, 2015

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review
            LITTLE ROCK – The recidivism rate for state prisoners in Arkansas is going up.
The recidivism rate measures the percentage of released inmates who get in trouble and return to prison.
The state Correction Department, which operates prison units, released a report on recidivism last week indicating that the three-year recidivism rate had increased by five percentage points, from about 43 percent to about 48 percent.
Of all the inmates who got out of prison in 2011, slightly more than 48 percent were back behind bars within three years. In other words, the Correction Department released 6,859 inmates in 2011 and 3,308 were back in prison within three years.
A smaller group– 6.4 percent, or 440 inmates - were back in prison within six months of their release. Within a year of release, 1,200 were in prison again. That is 17.5 percent.
There are more than 18,500 inmates in state prisons and county jails. A recurring political and financial issue is that when state prisons are full, convicted inmates must remain in county jails until there is room for them to be processed into a state unit.
The state reimburses counties for the costs of holding those inmates, but many sheriffs and other county officials say that the rate of $30 per inmate per day is well below the actual cost of about $45 a day.
The cost of building new prison space makes it politically difficult for Correction officials to get approval from the legislature. Last year the Board of Correction voted to ask for a new 1,000-bed prison, but legislative support was lacking in part due to its projected cost of $100 million.
Legislators, sheriffs and Correction officials are considering a host of solutions that include adding regional jails, contracting with private firms and paying others states to hold Arkansas inmates.
Many of those solutions were approved by the legislature in the regular session earlier this year. Also, the Board of Correction voted to send more than 200 Arkansas inmates to Bowie County, Texas. Arkansas will pay the Texas facility $36 a day per inmate, plus health insurance costs.
Enrollment in Colleges and Universities
            The Department of Higher Education has compiled enrollment figures for this fall that show a slight increase in enrollment at four-year universities and a decline in numbers at two-year colleges.
            State-supported universities enrolled 99,570 students for the fall semester, which is 1.6 percent more than last fall, when they enrolled 97,977  students.
            On the other hand, two-year colleges enrolled 50,497 students, which is 5.4 percent fewer students than last year.
            Attendance at two-year colleges often reflects economic conditions. Young people enroll to learn advanced skills when the economy is depressed and jobs are scarce.  When the economy brightens and good jobs are available, they go to work rather than enroll in a two-year college.
            Higher education officials and legislators have been trying to increase the numbers of students who enroll and graduate with a degree, to prepare the Arkansas work force for the more technically demanding jobs of the future. To achieve this goal, colleges and universities are reaching out to non-traditional students and populations that traditionally have not gone to college.

No comments: