Parole has long been a component of corrections in Arkansas. The State Penitentiary Board was originally established through Act 1 of 1943. Act 50 of 1968 reorganized the State Penitentiary as the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) and created two major boards: the Board of Corrections and the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Act 937 of 1989 abolished the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Board of Community Rehabilitation to create the Board of Parole and Community Rehabilitation.
Prior to reorganization, the Board of Pardons and Paroles consisted of five members who were appointed by the Governor to staggered five-year terms. The Board initially met three days each month at various units within the ADC. The Board interviewed inmates to determine who should be placed on parole and set the prescribed conditions of parole. Additionally, they made recommendations to the Governor on applications for pardons and commutations.
The Board of Community Rehabilitation consisted of six members. This body was appointed by the Governor to staggered four-year terms. The Commission met at least once a month and was primarily responsible for reviewing and certifying alternative service programs, screening files of qualified offenders and recommending expungement of records for eligible offenders who successfully completed a prescribed program.
In 1993, legislation revamped the Board of Parole and Community Rehabilitation. The Board was renamed the Arkansas Post-Prison Transfer Board with three full-time members. Subsequent legislation in 1995 and 1997 expanded the number of full-time positions. In 2005, Senate Bill 383 renamed the Post-Prison Transfer Board to the Arkansas Parole Board. The move was designed to alleviate confusion on the part of the public about the duties of the Board.
In 2005, the Board also became accredited by the American Correctional Association. The Board was re-accredited in 2008, 2011, and again in 2014. Currently, there are less than ten (10) accredited Parole Boards in the nation.
In 2007, an Act of the Legislature made all seven Board members full-time employees of the state.
In 2011, Act 570 required the Board to adopt several evidenced-based practices into its decision-making. Among them, were the development and implementation of a validated risk assessment, expanded reporting, and a structured evidenced-based training curriculum for the Board.
In 2013, Acts 136 and 485 gave the Board discretion over all sex offenses and additional violent and serious felonies respectively.
In 2013 and again in 2014, the Board added additional staff to cope with historic increases in the workload of the Board and to further support its automation efforts.
In 2015, Act 895 expanded the Board’s discretion over and placed the day-to-day operations of the Board under the Chairman. Additional legislation during the 2015 legislative session expanded the Board’s role in inmate reentry programming and strengthened the protections afforded to victim impact statements provided to the Board.
To effectively and efficiently serve the citizens of Arkansas through the conditional release of offenders via structured and evidenced-based decision-making; thereby ensuring the public’s safety, the empowerment of victims, and that offenders will be provided opportunities for positive behavioral change and held accountable for their actions upon release.
The Arkansas Parole Board will strive to become a national model for releasing authorities by:
- Making data-driven parole decisions through: (1) The consistent application of nationally recognized evidenced-based approaches. (2) The consideration of all available case information. (3) The application of appropriate decision criteria.
- Stipulating programs, conditions, and services in a manner that enhances the reentry of offenders into the community.
- Responding to parole violations appropriately and effectively by utilizing evidenced-based approaches, and taking into account the severity of the violation and the risks posed by the offender. Providing victims of crime with opportunities to give input and with timely information regarding the decision-making process.
- Collaborating with stakeholders on policies, programs, and processes.
- Streamlining the decision-making process through innovative policies, programs, and technologies.
The Arkansas Parole Board will value fairness, integrity, and innovation.
Public service with fairness and integrity.