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Justice Reinvestment in Arkansas

Justice Reinvestment | Arkansas

Alison Lawrence 9/25/2014

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The Public Safety Improvement Act of 2011 used recommendations from a bipartisan work group that analyzed sentencing and community supervision policies. The act reserves prison space for the most dangerous offenders and strengthens community supervision. It revises penalties for some drug and theft crimes, requires risk and needs assessments of probationers, and sets sanctions for breaking supervision rules. An analysis shows that during 2011, parole revocations fell 30 percent, probation revocations fell 15 percent and the state prison population declined 7 percent. The state expects to save $875 million in prison construction and operating expenses through 2020.

 

Legislation

SB 750 (2011) Public Safety Improvement Act (Act 570)

Modifies felony thresholds and penalties for certain drug and theft crimes. Authorizes nonviolent, lower level inmates to be released to electronic monitoring and expands eligibly for medical parole. Establishes earned discharge and completion of sentence for certain nonviolent parolees for complying with conditions of supervision. Requires the parole board to conduct a risk-needs assessment of all parole applicants. Requires the supervision of probationers and parolees be based on evidence-based practices, including use risk-needs assessments and programming that targets criminal risk factors. Authorizes intermediate sanctions for violations of community supervision and requires the development and use of an intermediate sanctions grid. Establishes a “swift and certain” sanctions pilot program. Establishes the Best Practices Fund for creating and maintaining evidence-based programs and supervision practices. Establishes an incentive funding program for supervision agencies that implement risk-reduction strategies and reduce prison admissions with no increase in crime. Requires detailed annual data reporting.

 
HB 1156 (2012)

Appropriates $1.9 million to the Department of Community Correction for using evidence-based practices, reducing offender caseloads and supporting drug courts.

 
HB 1224 (2013)

Appropriates $3 million to the Department of Community Correction for the Best Practices Fund. 

 
HB 1433 (2013)

Appropriates $500,000 for FY2014 for training and program implementation of evidence-based practices and administrative probation sanctions.

 
SB 235 (2013)

Appropriates $686,635 from federal funds and designates two employees to operate the “swift and certain” sanctions program, established in SB 750 (2011).

 
SB 860 (2013)

Decreases the number of times incarceration can be used as an intermediate sanction for parole violations. Decreases the total number of days incarceration can be used as an intermediate sanction before a parole officer is required to file for revocation. 

HB 1011 (2014)
Makes a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Community Correction for FY2014, including for drug courts, improvements to community corrections facilities,  training and program implementation of evidence-based practices, administrative probation sanctions and a victim restitution study.
 
SB 96 (2014)
Appropriates funds for FY2015 to the Administrative Office of the Courts, including for the drug court reentry program, the drug court effectiveness program, and the Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program.

 

Full summaries of legislation can be found in NCSL’s Sentencing and Corrections Enactment Database.
 

State Resources

  • Prison population projection (August 2013)
  • Ark. Department of Community Correction Act 570 report (December 2012)
  • Prison population forecast and Act 570 implementation presentation to House Judiciary Committee (September 2012)
  • Ark. Working Group on Sentencing and Corrections recommendations (January 2011)

Additional Resources

 

Return to NCSL’s Justice Reinvestment State Resources page or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice program.

 
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