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— Longtime state Sen. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette, and some other lawmakers met Tuesday at Tucker Correctional Facility near Pine Bluff.

Concerned about escapes and other problems that have recently plagued state prisons, the group, the Arkansas Legislative Council Charitable, Penal and Correctional Institutions Committee, saw and studied the 93-year-old prison facility.

The state Board of Corrections has taken steps to deal with problems following escapes and medical issues that arose in the facility. But he wants to make sure corrective actions are monitored closely to see how they work, the Gravette state senator said.

Tuesday's meeting was an informative one for him and other lawmakers, Hendren said.

"We got a history of the Tucker Correctional Facility.

We're trying to get a handle on what's going on in corrections, and I hope that in the next month or two, we can issue some kind of report to the public to let them know what we found out as far as how the legislators feel about how it's being handled," he said.

The public, including inmates, expect lawmakers to insist on accountability in state prisons and elsewhere, Hendren said.

He's not suggesting there's not enough accountability at present but added that, like anyone, officials in prison need to be held accountable, the Gravette state senator said.

"Just because a person is convicted of a crime, : theydon't cease to be a citizen, and they don't cease to be an individual and a human being.

And they need to be treated correctly. And I'm not saying we're not. But you can have abuse very quickly whenever you have such a stressful situation like that, and we just need to stay on top of it," Hendren said.

Tucker operations involve everything from field and edible crops and mattress manufacturing to bus and firetruck refurbishing, school desk and chair repair, vocational education and other things.

The ALC Charitable, Penal and Correctional Institutions Committee reviews matters pertaining to the state Department of Correction and its various units; the state correctional facilities for juveniles; in-state institutions that provide institutional services for citizens; and private facilities providing institutional services and care, bought by the state for the indigent.

News, Pages 3 on 09/16/2009

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