Arkansas's Incarceration Crisis
In the wake of Act 570 (2011), Arkansas saw reductions in both crime and incarceration. However the Arkansas General Assembly and Board of Corrections has since implemented policies that have made Arkansas the national leader in increase of incarceration. Arkansas has set record highs in prison population in back-to-back months (April 2015 and May 2015). The prison population is closing in on 19,000 compared to 14,805 in 2012.
A JFA Inst. report commissioned by the Arkansas Department of Corrections, Arkansas Community Corrections and the Sentencing Commission explained:
With a declining crime rate and only moderate growth in the resident population, the recent large increase in Arkansas’ incarcerated population is likely driven by policy choices within the state’s criminal justice system.
As a result Arkansas led the nation in increase of incarceration for the period of 2008-2013.
Disparate Impact on Women
The incarceration crisis has hit Arkansas women especially hard.
46.7% increase in newly incarcerated women in 2013 compared to a 13.7% increase in newly incarcerated men.
An additional 12.1% increase in newly incarcerated women in 2014 compared to a 3% decrease in newly incarcerated men.
73.2% increase in total prison admissions for women in 2013 compared to a 47% increase in total admissions for men.
260.9% increase in parole violator admissions for women compared to a 133% increase in parole violator admissions for men.
Disparate Impact on Blacks
Blacks are 16% of the state population but 43.5% of the prison population.
Black men are roughly 40% of male population of Little Rock but make up 80% of the male drug arrests in Little Rock despite no significant difference in drugs use between Blacks and Whites.
Arkansas’ Black children are even more disproportionately incarcerated, making up 51% of the children incarcerated for felony offenses in 2014.
Black children ages 13 and under are more likely to be incarcerated for felony offenses than any other demographic (no White children under 14 years-old were incarcerated for a felony offense in 2014). Also evidence suggests that Black children ages 16 and 17 are more likely to be tried as adults for felony offenses (thus the discrepancy between White and Black juvenile commitments ages 16-20). Only White 19 and 20 year-olds were adjudicated and incarcerated as juveniles, thereby avoiding an adult felony conviction and an adult prison.
No Reliable Data on Latinos
Many Latinos are categorized by administrators as White, which prevents us from appreciating the impact the incarceration crisis has had on Latinos.
Seeds will be holding educational sessions on the Arkansas incarceration crisis and how we can all help bring it to an end. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and read the Arkansas's Manufactured Incarceration Crisis: How Policymakers Made Arkansas the Fastest Growing Prison State in the United States by Omavi Shukur.