by Trevor Schakohl
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.”
Sanders also signed the Fentanyl Enforcement and Accountability Act Tuesday.
“Arkansas will now charge drug dealers with murder if they deliver certain drugs that cause an overdose,” the governor said of the new law. “For the most heinous drug dealers, those who traffic fentanyl to children, we will charge them with life in prison.”
Arkansas’ capital of Little Rock saw homicide offenses rise by more than 24 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year, while forcible rapes and robberies increased by around 8 percent and 5 percent 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.”
– – –