A Joint Judiciary panel heard on Tuesday (Sept. 25) that sentencing and prison reforms made in the 2011 legislative session may be showing early signs of success.
Rob Moritz with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, reports:
Wendy Naro-Ware of Denver-based JFA Institute, which has consulted the state on prison overcrowding, said Tuesday that in 2011 the number of parole revocations dropped nearly 30 percent, and the number of probation revocations declined 15 percent.
“That is extremely high,” she told a joint meeting of the Senate and House judiciary committees, and the Charitable, Penal and Correctional Institutions Subcommittee of Legislative Council. “That is good news and it has fueled the decrease in the number of admissions to prison.”
The state’s overall prison population, which peaked in November 2010 at 16,400, dropped 7.1 percent in 2011 to just under 15,000, matching 2004-2005 prison population levels, she said.
Naro-Ware also said the number of defendants convicted of Class Y felonies, such as murder and aggravated robbery, and required to serve at least 70 percent of their sentence, and those convicted of meth crimes and required to serve at least 50 percent of their sentence, has dropped some this year, and the lengths of sentences for non-violent crimes have decreased slightly, as well.
Some legislators were quick to give credit to the sentencing reform measure, Act 570, a bill pushed by Gov. Mike Beebe (D). Other lawmakers were skeptical, saying it was too soon to attribute the dropping prison levels to the prison overhaul law.
Read the full report at this link.