In Arkansas, many offenses currently carry sentences that are unnecessarily punitive and prioritize long periods of incarceration over empowering community-based rehabilitative efforts that are more likely to remedy the trauma that often leads to crime. Arkansas judges are also prone to imposing sentences much more severe than Arkansas sentencing guidelines suggest. A 2011 Pew report found that the average imposed sentence for offenses for which sentencing guidelines recommend incarceration was nearly two times the recommended sentence. In addition, the report found that offenses for which the guidelines recommended probation or placement in a community corrections facility were instead frequently punished by incarceration.  

It is not enough to rewrite sentencing guidelines to take into account research that shows that long-term incarceration is not the path to reducing recidivism or increasing public safety. Arkansas should dramatically decrease, if not eliminate, its carceral state in favor of programs that provide the accused with economic, political, and emotional tools that are traditionally denied them by political, economic, and social neglect. 

Drug Offenses | Property Offenses | Nonviolent Offenses | Violent Offenses