Rural Criminal Justice
Every year, 11 million people cycle through county and city jails in the United States while a half-million more people are released from state or federal prisons. In Arkansas, incarceration and pre-trial detention have grown since the 1970s. County governments spend more than one-third of their annual budgets on public safety.
In addition to the direct expense to communities, a person’s arrest record, criminal charge, or a conviction are barriers to many activities we take for granted. This includes finding housing, earning money, obtaining transportation and other resources needed to live safe and healthy lives.
The Public Policy Center at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers resources to raise awareness about criminal justice issues in our rural state.
Returning Simulation - Coming Soon!
The Arkansas Re-Entry Simulation uses four 15-minute weeks to model one month in the life of an adult who recently left prison.
Participants assume the identity of a former prisoner and must complete a series of tasks each week to succeed and avoid going back to jail. The simulation involves 14 stations where volunteers and participants explore and discuss the re-entry process, including its frustrations.
The simulation is not meant to objectify people or minimize their trauma. Our goal is to create awareness and education for the public through role playing and discussion about community attitudes and needs.
What’s Included In The Simulation Packet?
We adapted materials from the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of West Virginia Re-Entry Simulation Kit, to create a two-hour program for Arkansas communities and organizations.
Our simulation kit includes:
- Facilitator Guide – How to run the simulation
- Volunteer Guide – Instructions for volunteers
- Signage and station materials
- Participant kits
Email us to request more information about facilitating this simulation in your community.
Public Safety Spending in Arkansas Counties
County governments provide needed infrastructure and services for residents and businesses
compete in a global economy. Because the Arkansas Constitution requires that counties maintain balanced budgets, spending is constrained by the ability of county governments to generate revenue to pay for expenditures.
Along with the requirement of a balanced budget comes a list of services that all
75 counties are mandated to
• Justice through courts
• Law enforcement protection and custody of persons accused or convicted of crimes
• Real and personal property tax administration
• Court and public records administration
County government spending on law enforcement and public safety grew at a faster rate compared to growth in total spending. The increase in law enforcement and public safety spending from 2000-2017 was also greater than for any other major budget category.
• Law enforcement and public safety spending increased 58%, from $272 million to $430
• During the 17-year study period, law enforcement and public safety spending only decreased in five counties (Dallas, Desha, Lee, Phillips and Jefferson), and increased by 100% or more in 19 counties.