North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith said he expects to save taxpayer dollars and help deter probation violations by partnering with the Arkansas Department of Community Correction.
Beginning in early June, the state agency assigned to the city of North Little Rock six to eight participants in a work program, who have committed some technical violation of their parole. Supervised by a North Little Rock police officer, these individuals are performing tasks designated by the city’s Public Works department, usually lawn care and maintenance. No violent or sexual offenders are allowed to participate in the program, according to the mayor.
"This is a continuing effort by my administration to get the most out of each and every taxpayer dollar," said Mayor Joe Smith. "We have public space that needs to be maintained and the state has participants in a work program. It just makes financial sense to create a partnership."
In addition to saving the city money on labor costs, the program also has value in presenting a public deterrent to future parole violations.
"Hopefully this program will help reducing recidivism and parole revocation," said North Little Rock Police Chief, Mike Davis. "You have to follow the rules of your probation, and if you don’t you might end up mowing at a city park or picking up trash on a sidewalk with a police officer looking over your shoulder all day."
Nathan Hamilton, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said the program is working well during its first few weeks of existence.
"Having a police officer doing the supervision works out great," Hamilton said.
The city plans on keeping the program permanent as long as the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections provides participants to the city.
"We can use them," said Hamilton. "The mayor hopes to have up to 50 to 60 workers by this time next year."
Hamilton added, "There is always enough property maintenance to be taken care of. And we can never have enough people to do all the weed eating and mowing property. We can always use the help."