Protecting Arkansans: Common-Sense Measures to Reduce Crime Are Finally Here
3 min read

Protecting Arkansans: Common-Sense Measures to Reduce Crime Are Finally Here

Law & Order
Apr 4
3 min read

With violent crime on the rise in Arkansas, it’s long-past time to finally get a handle on the state’s crime crisis. Thankfully, state leaders are stepping up to the task: With The Protect Arkansas Act, a comprehensive package of solutions is finally underway that tackles the root causes of crime.

The legislation has three key components: protecting communities, protecting victims, and protecting Arkansas’s future.

You can view a one-page overview of the act here.

1. Protecting communities by stopping the parole crisis

First, the legislation would take the long-overdue step to eliminate parole and raise minimum prison times for the most serious crimes in the state. This measure is absolutely essential to stopping the revolving door between prison and society that results in too many serious offenders being prematurely released.

Crucially, these serious crimes will be exempt from the Emergency Powers Act which allows the state to release inmates in-mass when prison space is scarce.

Meanwhile, penalties for serious crimes, such as manslaughter and negligent homicide, would be increased. And a new felony version of the crime of fleeing the police would be implemented to protect law enforcement and public from reckless criminals who endanger their lives.

2. Protecting victims by enhancing victim rights & cracking down on repeat offenders

At the same time, the Protect Arkansas Act would implement a host of victim-oriented solutions.

For example, notification requirements for offender release would be enhanced; sexual crimes where minors are at risk would be more seriously addressed (through closing loopholes, prohibiting sex offenders on early release from residing with minors, and more); and courthouse therapy dogs would be more readily available for Arkansas kids who have experienced trauma.

Furthermore, to crack down on repeat offenses, certain repeat property crimes will be treated more seriously, and those who recommit while on early release will have to return to prison and serve their original sentence in addition to new time.

3. Protecting AR future by promoting family & work

Finally, the legislation includes a whole host of measures to secure a brighter future for all Arkansans.

For children with parents in the criminal justice system, new measures to promote family integrity and early childhood contact would be implemented.

Corrections training programs would be reevaluated and refocused, while the current policy of “earned time” would be replaced with work-focused earned release credits.

And to ease the transition back into the workforce, inmates would be provided with essential documentation upon release and have their access to driving permits expanded.

Together, this holistic set of reforms would address Arkansas’s high level of violent crime from all sides. From the standpoint of communities, victims, law enforcement, and those on the pathway to rehabilitation, this legislation would take meaningful and lasting steps to provide for a safer state.

At long last, a solution to Arkansas’s crime crisis is on the horizon.

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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