Rep. Darrin Williams is part of the program at the 8th Annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America at John Jay College of Criminal Justice Center on Media and Justice.
This year's symposium theme is "Smart Justice - Changing How We Think About Crime and Punishment."
The annual Guggenheim symposium brings together journalists, academics, police and agency heads for candid discussions on emerging topics of criminal justice. Rep. Williams has been asked to speak on a panel titled "Smart Justice Politics: Setting a Bipartisan Agenda."
During the 88th General Assembly, State Rep. Williams was charged with shepherding the substantial legislation through the House of Representatives, where it passed by an overwhelming majority. Bi-partisan support of Act 570 included 50 Democrats and 21 Republicans in the House signing on as co-sponsors.
Williams said, "Republicans and Democrats both agreed that we could not continue to invest our state's tax dollars into a prison system that continued to show poor investment returns." During the twenty years prior to the passage of Act 570, Arkansas's prison population had doubled, and the state's corrections spending had grown by 450%, from $45 million to $349 million. "Although it is early, we are seeing positive signs that Act 570 is working. Our prison population is down; parole and probation revocations are down and our county jail back up recently hit a low not seen since the late 1990's," according to Williams. "I look forward to sharing how Arkansas utilized a bi-partisan approach to address a serious problem with our sentencing and corrections system, and maybe other states will adopt a similar approach of working across party lines for the benefit other their states," said Williams.
Rep. Williams, who serves as the Speaker Pro Tem, represents Arkansas House District 36, which includes parts of central and southern Pulaski County.