Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders signed a bill Tuesday to stop criminals in prison for rape, first-degree murder, human trafficking and some other felony offenses committed after 2024 from being released early.
The Protect Arkansas Act will make those who commit any of 24 felonies including rape, aggravated robbery and child pornography possession ineligible for parole and require people incarcerated for a variety of other felony crimes like manslaughter and fentanyl delivery committed in 2025 or later to serve at least 85 percent of their court-assigned sentences. Sanders signed the act surrounded by law enforcement personnel, and tweeted, “The failed public safety status quo ends today in Arkansas.”
Roughly 70% of inmates at the Pamunkey Regional Jail recently tested for COVID-19 are positive, causing the facility to go on lockdown, jail officials said in a release Wednesday.
The facility, which takes offenders from the town of Ashland, Hanover and Caroline counties and the U.S. Marshals Service, can hold up to 549 inmates, but currently houses only 382.
The House Committee on Courts of Justice advanced a bill Wednesday that would allow for the early release of violent offenders by implementing a new earned sentence credit program.
The bill bars prisoners convicted of capital murder and most acts of violence involving minors from earning credits, but, conversely, includes first-time offenders convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, carjacking, rape and child pornography, among others.