When Act 570 was passed in the 2011 legislative session, it was hailed as an innovative approach to prison overcrowding. Two years later, corrections officials say they are struggling to implement aspects of the program while prison populations rise from changes recently made to the parole process.

From Rob Moritz with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau:

Correction officials say electronic monitoring could play a bigger role not only in reducing prison overcrowding but also in improved supervision of those on parole.

Dina Tyler, spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Corrections, said a recently signed contract with an electronic monitoring firm should save the state money, nearly eliminate the department’s monitoring responsibilities and result in more parolees being released with electronic ankle bracelets.

“Before, those parole officers who had parolees on electronic monitoring had to keep up with them on the monitor and so they might be a little reluctant to put them on that because they couldn’t keep up with them,” she said, adding the new contract with 3M Electronic Monitoring reduces the monthly cost of using an electronic bracelet by about 36 percent from $6.25 to $4.02.

“I think you will see a more liberal use of it,” Tyler said, adding that currently 137 parolees with electronic monitoring bracelets are under DCC supervision across the state.

Moritz reports that prison and parole officials haven’t found many inmates who fit the criteria tied to Act 570, which was touted as saving nearly $875 million to the state during the next decade.

The measure called for changes to the sentences for non-violent offenders and made some eligible for parole sooner based on their offenses. Electronic monitoring was touted as one way to gain a more efficient parole system for the state.

Read more on the subject at this link.

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