LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A panel says it favors proposals aimed at reducing crowding in Arkansas’ prisons and helping offenders with addictions and mental illnesses.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ( ) reports that the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force is made up of state lawmakers and officials representing police, prisons and mental health advocates. The task force approved the proposal Tuesday.

The plan focuses on limiting prison stays for parole and probation violators while using funds to hire more caseworkers and provide treatment for mental health issues and addiction.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center predicts its plan could offset costs from building and operating new prison facilities. According to the council, the proposal could save the state about $144 million during the next four years.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,