Arkansas Committee to Discuss Parole and the Death Penalty

Jul 23, 2013

Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR News / KUAR

Arkansas lawmakers are holding a Joint Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday to discuss the parole system and the death penalty.

The hearing comes after many public officials expressed concern with the parole system after the May killing of an 18 year old in Little Rock by an eight time absconder.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, himself a former prosecutor, is among those testifying for tougher regulations. Stodola said repeat non-violent offenders shouldn’t be treated differently than violent offenders by the parole board.

"There are two kinds of people that need to be locked up. One is the violent criminal. The people that hurt people and kill people. And then the recidivist career burglar and thief, and we've got a lot of them. Those are considered to be non-violent crimes and therefore their risk assessments are reduced and lower and they shouldn't be," said Stodola.

According to Department of Community Correction statistics there are about 56,000 probationers and parolees and 402 parole officers. That’s 140 parolees per officer. Stodola said the discussion will also cover the use of electronic monitoring devices. Some changes have already been made, including the resignation of the chair of the Department of Community Correction.

The committee will also hear testimony from Attorney General Dustin McDaniel on the death penalty. McDaniel recently said he believes the use of lethal injection is a broken system but that other methods like the gas chamber and firing squad may be too barbaric. McDaniel suggested the possibility of the legislature or voters choosing to abolish the death penalty, but stopped short of advocating that.