Arkansas Governor Begins Computer Science Tour, Discusses Hot-Button Issues

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)- Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson made a stop in Fort Smith Wednesday (April 6) to speak with students at Northside High School about the importance of computer programing classes.

“Historically if a school did offer computer science it would be as a career tech class, which means you wouldn't get graduation credit," Hutchinson said. "So it is sort of a disincentive for students to take the class and they are concentrating on what it takes to get to college. So we changed the formula so that it is part of the smart core curriculum. You can take four math credits or you can take three math credits and a computer science class.”

Hutchinson will tour schools through the month of May encouraging students to take more computer science classes.

“Computer coding skills is really foundational for any industry or any profession you go into,” Hutchinson said.

5NEWS also asked Hutchinson about two hot-button issues in the state: the death penalty and prison overcrowding.

Cathy and Mauricio Torres of Bella Vista were charged with capital murder by the Benton County prosecutor after court documents showed they murdered their son. If they're convicted, they could be sentenced to death.

“I've supported the death penalty in appropriate cases, which are limited, heinous extremely violent crimes and we have to have the protections in place,” Hutchinson said.

It’s been years since Arkansas executed a capital murder convict, but the governor said his administration is working to change that.

“Right now, in Arkansas, there’s a number of things that are going through the appeal process,” Hutchinson said. “It’s far too long, it’s been delayed but there’s some challenges we face in the courts review of our process, the chemicals that are used in our lethal injections. So we are waiting on the courts to sign off and give us approval for the next step.”

The other issue in the Arkansas correctional system is prison overcrowding that leads to overcrowding at county jails.

“We expanded prison space to alleviate it,” Hutchinson said. “We’ve invested in that we are trying to make sure that it works. We have it combined with our faith-based institutions, our nonprofits effective re-entry programs we intend to pursue that this summer as well.”

Hutchinson said the state is also working with alternative sentencing courts and creating a more effective parole system.