As Arkansas lawmakers continue to drill down into the agency that oversees parole, the interim state leader of the organization says the entire criminal justice system needs a review.
Interim Department of Community Correction Director Sheila Sharp told a Joint Performance Review Committee that she has been making personnel and management changes to her agency in the wake of a high-profile parolee who has been charged with murder.
From Rob Moritz with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau:
An evaluation of the state’s entire justice system may be in order, the interim director of the state Department of Community Correction told legislators Thursday, as officials work through investigations into the agency’s handling of a parolee accused of murdering a teenager while free despite multiple arrests.
Interim DCC Director Sheila Sharp, a state prison system veteran who took over the agency that oversees parolees and probationers in July, told committee members Thursday, “I believe there needs to be processes changed in our entire criminal justice system, from my initial look.”
She told the panel that she has shuffled DCC personnel and taken other steps since taking over the agency that oversees parolees and those on probation in July.
Sharp said the Little Rock area probation and parole office does not have enough staff and has a turnover rate of nearly 50 percent. When fully staffed, she said, there are 60 officers in the Little Rock office, which monitors about 35 percent of the 24,000 parolees in the state.
She said she has begun filling 10 vacant parole and probation officer positions and has divided the Little Rock office between parole and probation to help reduce caseloads and allow officers to be more specialized. One area manager was demoted, she said.
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