Democratic Attorney General candidate Jesse Gibson said he’ll emphasize independence, prison reform and human trafficking if elected to be the state’s chief legal officer, but he cites his nearly 25 years of courtroom experience as his primary qualification for the office.
“If you want to be the people’s lawyer, I think it’s imperative that you’ve actually had experience representing people in Arkansas courts. And that’s what I’ve done for 25 years almost. I’m not a creature of Washington. I am not someone who’s been a political operative or spent a lot of my time in the halls of Congress or the Capitol. I’ve sat across this very desk from people in Arkansas who have suffered immense loss, who have maybe lost a farm, lost a loved one. And I’ve seen the application of and the empathetic practice of law to their lives can make a huge difference,” he said in an appearance on this weekend’s edition of Talk Business & Politics.
Gibson said he won’t operate the office in a partisan manner, a charge he contends current Republican AG Leslie Rutledge has done. He says Rutledge’s partisanship – particularly her involvement in trying to overturn the 2020 Presidential election results – comes up on the campaign trail often.
“The Attorney General’s office does not need to be a partisan play thing… we need someone to be an independent watchdog,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of left and right. It’s a matter of allowing everyone to have a voice.”
Gibson, who will face the winner of the GOP primary between Lt. Governor Tim Griffin and attorney Leon Jones, said if he’s elected, he would pursue a platform to fight human trafficking, curtail recidivism in prisons, and reform sentencing and the parole system.
“I often refer to it as a supply and demand issue. We have to be tough on crime, no doubt, but we also have to be serious about our programs that educate and assimilate people back into society,” said Gibson, who supports the construction of a new prison. “I think that’s what the [Corrections] Director [Solomon] Graves had mentioned in his comments to the Legislature. We have to have serious discussions about what programs actually work to cut down recidivism. We don’t have to always just continue this issue of expanding prisons until we get a grip on true educational programs, true assimilation programs, and do things that actually work.”
Gibson will take part in the Thursday, April 21st Arkansas Press Association’s Day of Debates. You can watch his full interview in the video below.