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Arkansas sentencing overhaul defended

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Governor Beebe, looking  back, comments on the "sentencing overhaul" by the legislature.

Gov. Mike Beebe says the part of last session's sentencing overhaul intended to reduce prison overcrowding is working.

Speaking to the Arkansas Sheriff's Association, Beebe said it will take more time to learn whether new sentences for lesser, nonviolent offenses will keep people convicted from reoffending.

Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay says he expects it will become clear in the next two or three years whether diversionary sentencing is working. Holladay says the backlog of state prisoners in his jail is half what it was before the sentencing changes and says large backlogs are being prevented.

Beebe says the sentencing law is subject to change and that violent criminals should be locked up, as should people who won't stop committing lesser offenses.

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