Consensus Report of the Arkansas Working Group on Sentencing and Corrections

Consensus Report of the Arkansas Working Group on Sentencing and Corrections


Problem. Arkansas’s prison population has doubled during the past 20 years, driving corrections costs up 450 percent. At the same time, recidivism and crime rates have remained stubbornly high. If left unchecked, the population will grow by as much as 43 percent in the next decade and cost Arkansas taxpayers an additional $1.1 billion

Drivers. An extensive review of data revealed that the state is underutilizing probation, imposing longer prison sentences for non-violent offenses, and delaying transfer to parole.

Process. Since March 2010, a bipartisan, inter-branch working group, assisted by the Pew Center on the States, has met to analyze sentencing data, audit corrections and community supervision policies, consult stakeholders, and forge consensus on a package of reforms that will help taxpayers get a better public safety return on their corrections dollars.

Reforms. The policy recommendations in this report will protect public safety and reduce recidivism by strengthening community supervision; improve government efficiency and sustain progress through performance measurement; and contain corrections costs by concentrating prison space on violent and career criminals.

Impact. The Working Group’s policy package is projected to save Arkansas $875 million through averted prison construction and operating expenses through 2020, and to improve public safety through reduced recidivism.