5 ways to start solving #ARCrimeCrisis that threatens opportunity for all Arkansans
3 min read

5 ways to start solving #ARCrimeCrisis that threatens opportunity for all Arkansans

Law & Order
Nov 8
3 min read

If you’ve opened social media or read a newspaper in Arkansas in the last two years, you’re well aware: the state is undergoing a massive crime crisis. But what often gets lost in the headlines that focus on the sensational details are the people–the victims and their families–whose lives are changed forever.

Imagine it was your family members who were killed in a senseless shooting in Conway last month. 

Or that it was your brother who was slaughtered in a community park in North Little Rock.

Or your dad who was coming to visit you at the hospital, but never left, being shot dead.

These are just a few of hundreds of examples from the recent past. And these are our friends and neighbors. There are people on the other end of those bullets. People who have now been robbed of opportunity.

And there’s no end in sight.

Today, 216 Arkansans will be the victim of a property crime, and 55 will be the victim of a violent crime. And the same will occur tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. This has become the norm. 

Here are some quick stats that should (but may not) shock you:

Arkansas ranks…


  • Arkansas’s overall violent crime rate is nearly 70 percent higher than the national average.

Unfortunately, long-standing state policies have contributed to this jarring reality.

In Arkansas today, many inmates--even those convicted of serious crimes--are allowed early release because of “good behavior” or because they completed a program.

The Arkansas Parole Board doesn't post its vote counts on letting inmates go, and its members have no term limits.

Once an inmate is free, there is too little effort made to reintegrate them into society.

And Arkansas even has a law on the books that allows the near-automatic release of inmates when prisons get too crowded.

Let's call these what they truly are: failed policies of the past. They are what got us here. And it is long-past time we abandoned them for some commonsense, homegrown solutions to stem the wave of rising crime.

What are those solutions? I’m glad you asked.

  1. We must reform our "good time" and "earned time" policies for inmates so that career criminals don't exploit loopholes in the system that allow them to significantly reduce the length of their sentence. 
  1. We also have to introduce accountability to the Parole Board. That means term limits, shorter terms in general, and publicizing their votes to let inmates out. Without any accountability, we can only expect to continue getting the same results over and over again.
  1. Our district attorney's should be required to declare their partisan affiliation. This is something every single one of our neighboring states already does and it will help Arkansans elect tough-on-crime prosecutors.
  1. The Emergency Powers Act which lets inmates out when prisons get “too crowded” should also be on the chopping block. What may have once been seen as a commonsense pressure-release valve has been abused time and time again and Arkansans are paying the price. It’s time to scrap–or at least massively overhaul–this dangerous law.
  1. And finally, for non-violent criminals who have done their time, we should work to ease their re-entry into society by reducing barriers to drivers licenses and artificial hurdles to occupational licenses that would otherwise prohibit them from finding a job. We should also encourage employers to hire non-violent criminals re-entering society.

The solutions are right in front of our eyes. And given the growing nature of the crisis, it is long-past time Arkansas policymakers act.

Image of the story authorHayden Dublois
Visiting Economist

Hayden Dublois is the Visiting Economist at Opportunity Arkansas. His primary research areas are welfare, health care, workforce, unemployment, and tax policy.

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