Republican Arkansas Governor Sarah Sanders signed a bill into law this week that will prevent criminals convicted of rape, first-degree murder, human trafficking, and many other felonies from ever being released early from prison. The new law would apply to any crimes committed after 2024.
The bill titled “Protect Arkansas Act” states that criminals who commit any of 24 listed felonies ineligible for parole. It also requires criminals who have committed other felonies to serve at least 85% of their sentences. Sanders stated in a Tweet, “The failed public safety status quo ends today in Arkansas. No more revolving doors in our prisons. No more weak sentencing. No more unsafe streets. The Protect Arkansas Act is now the law of the land — empowering Arkansans with a safer, stronger state.”
The failed public safety status quo ends today in Arkansas.
No more revolving doors in our prisons. No more weak sentencing. No more unsafe streets.
The Protect Arkansas Act is now the law of the land — empowering Arkansans with a safer, stronger state. pic.twitter.com/P6E8cKWR7C
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) April 11, 2023
The bill written by various different senators and representatives states:
AN ACT TO CREATE THE PROTECT ARKANSAS ACT; TO AMEND 18 ARKANSAS LAW CONCERNING SENTENCING AND PAROLE; TO 19 AMEND ARKANSAS LAW CONCERNING CERTAIN CRIMINAL 20 OFFENSES; TO AMEND ARKANSAS LAW CONCERNING THE PAROLE 21 BOARD; TO CREATE THE LEGISLATIVE RECIDIVISM REDUCTION 22 TASK FORCE; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
…TO CREATE THE PROTECT ARKANSAS ACT; TO 27 AMEND ARKANSAS LAW CONCERNING SENTENCING 28 AND PAROLE; TO AMEND ARKANSAS LAW 29 CONCERNING CERTAIN CRIMINAL OFFENSES; AND 30 TO CREATE THE LEGISLATIVE RECIDIVISM 31 REDUCTION TASK FORCE.
Governor Sanders also signed the Fentanyl Enforcement and Accountability Act this week. Sander said, “Arkansas will now charge drug dealers with murder if they deliver certain drugs that cause an overdose. For the most heinous drug dealers, those who traffic fentanyl to children, we will charge them with life in prison.” The bill states:
AN ACT CREATING THE FENTANYL ENFORCEMENT AND 14 ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 2023; TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY; 15 AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
…CREATING THE FENTANYL ENFORCEMENT AND 20 ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 2023; CONCERNING 21 FENTANYL AND OTHER CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES; 22 TO ESTABLISH INCREASED PENALTIES; AND TO 23 DECLARE AN EMERGENCY
Over the past several years, crime has worsened across cities in America. According to the Council on Criminal Justice, “Over the past two years, homicides and gun assaults trended upward while most property crimes receded. In the first half of 2022, crime patterns partially reversed: in particular, homicides and gun assaults declined while property crimes rose. The number of homicides declined by 2% in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of 2021 (a decrease of 54 homicides). While this reduction is heartening, the homicide rate is still 39% higher than it was during the first half of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hopefully, Gov. Sanders’ bill will positively impact Arkansas, which has seen worsening crime statistics. The Daily Caller reported on worsening crime trends in Arkansas:
Arkansas’ capital of Little Rock saw homicide offenses rise by more than 24% in 2022 compared to the previous year, while forcible rapes and robberies increased by around 8% and 5% respectively, according to the Little Rock Police Department. Sanders had pledged during the 2022 campaign for governor to close parole system loopholes and “never defund the police,” saying, “Criminals in Arkansas do not fear the state’s criminal justice system.”
Hopefully, this bill will be a wake-up call for other states to take a hard-on-crime stance.
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