Board of Corrections moves to pull back from punitive parole policies | Arkansas Blog

Friday, August 21, 2015

Board of Corrections moves to pull back from punitive parole policies

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 8:51 PM

The state Board of Corrections voted today to recommend that the state Parole Board move away from a policy that's been the driving force behind the massive surge in Arkansas's prison population.

After Darrell Dennis, a serial parole absconder with a long criminal record, murdered a white teenager in 2013, the Board of Corrections responded to the uproar that followed by requiring parole revocation hearings for all parolees merely charged — not convicted — of any felony or violent or sex-related misdemeanor, a policy possibly unique among states with parole.

As a result, Arkansas's prison population grew seven times faster than any other in the country in 2013. Official state tallies aren't yet available for 2014, but Arkansas's growth is once again expected to be among the highest in the country.

Today, the Board of Corrections recommended that parolees charged with nonviolent felonies and certain misdemeanors merely be held for three days, during which time the Parole Board could decide whether to hold a revocation hearing; if the Board decided not to hold a hearing, the parolee would be set free, perhaps with electronic monitoring. The Parole Board will meet on Aug. 27 to ratify the proposed change, according to Dina Tyler a spokesperson for the Board of Corrections. 

The practical effect could be significant.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Parole Board revoked 6,104 parolees. Of those, only 28 percent were convicted of new charges, according to Tyler. Often, prosecutors drop or nol pros the charges, Tyler said. But what kind of justice is that?

The Arkansas Legislative Council today approved $7.4 million to go toward the third phase of construction on the Ester Unit in Pine Bluff. That money will eventually allow the Arkansas Department of Correction to add 200 beds, but that won't come until well into next year. Phase two of Ester construction is scheduled to be completed Jan. 1, 2016, and it will add another 172.

But that hardly puts a dent in the 2,687 prisoners under ADC jurisdiction held in county jails today. The total ADC population count today is 19,035. Twenty years ago, amid the war on drugs and a significantly higher crime rate, the population was only 9,051.

Today's recommended policy change could help stem the tide, though. The Board of Corrections will ask the Parole Board to make the change retroactive, which could immediately alleviate some of the county jail backup, Tyler said. 

"This is something that will help that we can do carefully and still protect the public," Tyler said.  

Parolees charged with violent or sexual felonies will continue to be held for revocation hearings as required by 2013's Act 1029, sponsored by Sen. David Sanders (R-Little Rock).

Tags: , , , ,


Favorite

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • The Trouble Brewing in the LRSD Edition

    The potential coming conflict between the Hutchinson administration and the Little Rock Education Association, a federal court ruling on student transfers and allegations of another debtor’s prison — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • Aug 10, 2018
  • The Throw the Bums Out Editions

    The term limit ballot measure, which qualified for the ballot today; differences emerging among Little Rock mayoral candidates; and the unflattering Little Rock connection in Brett Kavanaugh’s past — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • Aug 3, 2018
  • An ISP to love

    Hyperleap offers no-hassle, blazing internet speeds.
    • Jul 26, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Women's March planned in Arkansas to mark Trump inauguration

    Speaking of Donald Trump and in answer to a reader's question: There will be a women's march in Arkansas on Jan. 21, the day after inauguration, as well as the national march planned in Washington.
    • Dec 30, 2016
  • Greenbrier's paddling of student protester goes worldwide

    The paddling of Greenbrier High School students who joined in te national school walkout Wednesday has produced headlines worldwide.
    • Mar 17, 2018
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation