Advancing Justice: Governor Asa Hutchinson Keynote Address

Asa Hutchinson, the current Republican governor of Arkansas, has viewed the criminal justice system from a variety of vantage points at both the state and federal levels. He was a U.S. attorney in the 1980s, during the implementation of some of the first mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and he saw the system in a different light through his work with the House Judiciary Committee. He also headed the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), recognizing even then the destructive disparity between sentences for crack and powder cocaine. Later, he joined the private sector as a defense attorney.

When he became the governor of Arkansas in January 2015, the state was facing prison overcrowding so severe that it would need to allocate $100 million toward building more prison space. During his keynote address, Hutchinson explained that he signed the Right on Crime Statement of Principles because, according to him, conservatives should not hesitate to emphasize principles like fairness, justice, second chances, and fiscal responsibility.

From there, Hutchinson worked to expand alternatives to incarceration that would more successfully rehabilitate offenders and alter behavior. Arkansas devoted $14 million to alternative sentencing courts, expanding them for nonviolent offenders. Efforts like this reduced Arkansas’s backlog of prisoners in county jails from 3,000 to 1,800. Moreover, these measures gave offenders a second chance and saved taxpayers money by reducing long-term prison costs.

Now, Hutchinson is calling for a comprehensive review of state sentencing laws to determine which are most effective. This, he said, is just the beginning of a debate that is essential for the United States. He is confident that citizens’ sense of fairness will enable the country to overcome challenges to achieving meaningful reform.

More Blog Posts

10-16-2018 02:10pm

Sensitizing Stories: Rob Wallace

Rob Wallace, an award-winning producer and senior producer for ABC News and CBS News and an adjunct faculty member for the Media and Journalism Fellowship, recounts his career in film and television.

Read more

10-08-2018 08:10am

Occupational Licensing Reforms Remove Roadblocks

New Mexico’s occupational licensing reform shows how making changes at the state level removes barriers to opportunity, especially for low- and moderate income Americans.

Read more

09-25-2018 03:09pm

Pompeo’s On the Right Track with North Korea Negotiations

Mike Pompeo’s move to invite North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs to DC is in line with the views of Americans and South Koreans.

Read more

Sign up for updates