Arkansas’s prison growth is outpacing the national average, a consultant told the Arkansas Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force today.
In response the state Board of Corrections made sweeping changes to its parole rules. Most notably, it made automatic the revocation of parole for a parolee charged â€” not convicted â€” of any felony. Arkansas is one of the only, or perhaps the only, states that refers all new felony charges for revocation, saidÂ Benny Magness, chair of the Board of Corrections.
Because of those rule changes, the state’s recent rapid growth has been fueled by parole violators. In 2013, in the wake of the changes spurred by the Dennis case, the prison population grew by 17.7 percent, which Ware said made Arkansas the fastest growing prison population for that year â€” seven times the national average. In 2014, the prison population grew by 3.7 percent, which still puts Arkansas among the fastest growing states in the country, Ware said.
In 2012, ADC took in 1,633 parole violators. In 2013, it took in 3,671.
“I can’t stress how substantial [of an increase] that is,” Ware told the task force. “In fact, I’ve never seen anything like it in my career.”