Arkansas's criminal justice system is a mess, nonprofit reminds task force | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Arkansas's criminal justice system is a mess, nonprofit reminds task force

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 10:59 PM

click to enlarge JUSTICE CENTER
  • Justice Center

Arkansas has the fastest growing prison population in the country. The crime rate is falling faster in surrounding states. Arkansas currently spends half a billion dollars a year on corrections, and, if prison growth continues, the state will have to spend $1.3 billion a year in 2025 — and that's a conservative estimate. 

These were among the dismal facts Justice Center, a project of the nonprofit Council of State Governments, reminded the Legislative Criminal Justice Task Force of Wednesday. This was was Justice Center's second presentation before the task force. It'll give several more — including analyses of prison, parole and probation, and jail data — as part of its Justice Reinvestment in Arkansas project, which began last year and will later this year include recommendations for moving the state away from mass incarceration and massive corrections spending. After Justice Center makes its suggestions, the task force will make its own recommendations for criminal justice reform.

Today, Andy Barbee, research manager for Justice Center, talked about Arkansas's sentencing grid, a set of guidelines introduced to law in 1993 that prescribe the length of sentence given to an offender based on the type of offense committed and an offender's criminal history — while still giving prosecutors and judges wide latitude to deviate from it. An offender's criminal history score is based on prior felonies (.5 to 1 point, depending on the seriousness), prior class A misdemeanors (.25 points), juvenile criminal record (.25 to 1 for certain offenses) and whether the offender was under state supervision (1 point). Offense types are divided into 10 levels. 

See below.

click to enlarge Arkansas's Sentencing Grid - JUSTICE CENTER
  • Justice Center
  • Arkansas's Sentencing Grid

Arkansas is less prescriptive than other states with sentencing guidelines, Barbee said. Forty percent of its grid (everything in orange above) offers every sanction as a possibility — fines, community service, drug court, probation, a community corrections center or prison. 

The state also sent more than 1,000 people to prison in 2014 from the area on the grid where no prison is recommended (the blue and green above) at annual cost of $7.2 million. 

There's some more interesting tidbits in the presentation for criminal justice wonks.

Tags: , ,


Favorite

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

Readers also liked…

  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • French Hill votes against disaster aid to Puerto Rico

    Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill alone among Arkansas's House delegation voted last week against a measure that provided $36.5 billion in disaster aid, a portion  for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico as well as money for wildfire response and to support the flood insurance program.
    • Oct 14, 2017
  • Presidential thriller, co-author Bill Clinton, coming to bookstores in 2018

    June 2018 is the expected publication date for a novel collaboration by former President Bill Clinton and crime writer James Patterson.
    • May 9, 2017

Slideshows

  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

 

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