Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 91st General Assembly
January 18th, 2018 • News

January 18, 2018

  • For the most part, fiscal sessions of the legislature run pretty smoothly, but this year we may have some spirited debate over the budget of the Department of Community Correction. Several of my colleagues want to increase the department’s budget, over and above the level recommended by the governor.
  • Their reasons are pretty simple. They want to reduce crime by increasing the number of law enforcement officers who supervise inmates who are out of prison on parole.
  • The Community Corrections Department supervises convicted criminals who are not in prison.
  • In Arkansas there are about 29,000 offenders who received a suspended sentence and are on probation. There are about 24,000 offenders who have served most of their prison sentence and have been released on parole. All of them are under the supervision of the Department of Community Corrections.
  • The department has 468 parole officers whose duty is to supervise those offenders. Some officers supervise the most difficult cases, while others handle the low-risk cases. Overall, their average caseload is 120 offenders per officer. That is more than double the caseload recommended by national law enforcement organizations.
  • One of my Senate colleagues is preparing an amendment to the governor’s budget, which would allow the department to hire an additional 30 officers.
  • Besides supervising offenders on parole and probation, the department operates specialty courts, such as drug courts and courts specifically for veterans. Also, the department runs halfway houses and re-entry programs that prepare inmates for life outside of prison. In all, the department’s budget is more than $90 million a year.
      Click to Listen - Audio Recording from January 18, 2018