In 2011, the Arkansas Legislature passed significant sentencing reform legislation, which increased probation and parole supervision alternatives for nonviolent and drug offenders, implemented graduated sanctions for technical violations while on parole, and increased the availability of electronic monitoring.
So far, this legislation has correlated with a 30 percent drop in parole revocations and a 15 percent drop in probation revocations. The total prison population dropped 7.1 percent in 2011 alone.
Further studies are forthcoming, but the early results are promising. Taxpayers in Arkansas will save millions with more effective sentencing options for low-level offenders, prison crowding has eased, and prison beds can be reserved for violent, dangerous offenders who genuinely threaten the public safety.