Arkansas Parole Board announces changes that may free up bed space

Arkansas Parole Board announces changes that may free up bed space

The Arkansas Parole Board announced changes Thursday that will likely free up bed space in county jails across Arkansas.

Those changes include evaluating the release of more than 400 parole violators in county jails across the state. However, some law enforcement officials don't feel it will be enough to solve the overcrowding issues that have plagued county jails recently.

"Unfortunately, I feel it's a short term solution to a small number of what's needed," Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said.

For the past two years, county jails in the state of Arkansas have battled overcrowding issues. In that time, the number of inmates who should be behind bars at the Arkansas Department of Correction and are instead dispersed across the state has risen.

Sheriff Boyd explained that even though the parole board will evaluate the release of up to 400 parole violators, the backlog of state inmates is still over the 2,500 mark.

He also added that even though the parole board will evaluate 400 inmates, that full number likely won't be released.

"Say they just take half, 200, hopefully, that's 200 more beds that we, counties in Arkansas, can use to ease overcrowding issues," Sheriff Boyd said.

Though it may help free up a few beds in the Craighead County Jail, Sheriff Boyd said the decision by the Arkansas Parole Board also creates some concern.

"Because we have seen the bad results of parolees in Arkansas in the past," Sheriff Boyd said. "I don't know how much I agree with that even. Depending on what they did commit or what their infractions were, some people need to be locked up for public safety."

Sheriff Boyd added that he does feel the Arkansas Parole Board will do a good job of determining who should be released.

Regardless, Boyd said what was announced today only serves as a small, short-term fix and work must continue to find a solution to the problem that has snowballed over the past couple of years.

"We still feel that extra bed space is needed in Arkansas and we don't care if it comes from the Department of Corrections or from a private entity or we move inmates out of state," Boyd said.

The inmates who will be reviewed for release are those who solely violated their parole through a technical violation and not through a new criminal offense.

According to the parole board, they would see if those inmates could be better served through alternative sanctions. Sheriff Boyd said that could mean an ankle monitor, court ordered classes or community service.

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Copyright 2015 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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