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City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Thursday, October 11, 2007
CITY EXPANDS COMMUNITY PUNISHMENT PROGRAM
(Little Rock, AR – October 11, 2007) “If we cannot put people in the jail, there are some that we can put to work helping clean up the City.”
That statement was made by Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola as he announced an expansion of the City’s Community Punishment Program.
He was joined at the announcement by City Director Ken Richardson (Ward 2) and representatives of City departments. The remarks took place at a vacant house which is both a weed lot and has debris and trash dumped in the back yard.
“Cleaning up this property is exactly what the Community Punishment workers can do for the city,” said Director Richardson.
The expansion takes effect on Monday, October 15. The Mayor stressed the different enhancements. The first is more people. Currently, there are 8 to 20 people a day who have been sentenced to Community Punishment. Starting next week, that number will rise to 30 with plans to be at capacity of 80 a day by the first of 2008.
Since the beginning of the year, over 21,000 hours of work has been performed by Community Punishment workers. “Just imagine what more Community Punishment workers can accomplish, both in the hours accrued and the tasks done,” the Mayor said.
“All three Little Rock District Courts have agreed to participate in this expanded effort,” according to the Mayor.
Additionally, City Manager Bruce T. Moore and the Mayor have been working to increase the number of Departments that are using Community Punishment workers. In addition to Housing & Neighborhood Programs and the Police Department, Community Punishment workers will also work with Animal Services, Parks & Recreation, Public Works, and the Zoo in maintenance areas. There will also be more tasks available on Saturdays for Community Punishment workers.
Little Rock residents will notice the Community Punishment workers as they are performing their tasks. The Mayor and Director Richardson displayed the new yellow vest emblazoned with “Community Punishment.”
“We want the Citizens to see that we are putting people to work,” noted the Mayor. “One way or another, they will repay their debt to the Citizens of Little Rock.”
“Let me stress,” said the Mayor, “additional Community Punishment workers will not solve all public safety issues in Little Rock. But it is a tool to help.”
“Another tool to help is for all Little Rock citizens to contact the County Judge and the Quorum Court to tell them to fully fund the jail in 2008,” continued the Mayor. “We are all County taxpayers in addition to being City taxpayers. There are functions for City government to perform and there are functions for County government to perform. Operating the jail is a County government function.”
“Unless and until the County leaders and the Quorum Court properly fund the jail, there will be a revolving door and criminals will be back on the street before the ink is dry on their arrest paperwork,” stated the Mayor.