by Max Brantley
Fox 16 reports:
David Eberhard, Director of the Arkansas Department of Community Correction (DCC), has taken the necessary steps to retire effective today.
According to a news release, he informed the Chairman of the Board of Corrections on June 21st of his intent to retire.
The agency has been under fire after the case of parolee Darrell Dennis came to light.
Dennis, who had repeated felony arrests, was arrested again on a murder charge two days after he was paroled.
Dennis is charged with murder in the shooting death of Forrest Abrams, 18, back in May.
Eberhard will retire with more than 28 years of service in Arkansas state government — having served as a judicial law clerk, an assistant attorney general, a deputy attorney general, as general counsel for the Arkansas Department of Community Correction and as Director of the DCC.
The parole system has been a sore point with many legislators for years, but the controversy exploded recently with the arrest of serial parole violator Darrell Dennis in the slaying of Forrest Abrams. The department's failure to get the violator a parole revocation hearing and its role in the release of the suspect from the county jail are part of an ongoing investigation of what went wrong.
Gov. Mike Beebe had earlier called Eberhard into his office for an explanation. But a spokesman for the governor said Beebe had not asked for Eberhard to step down. He notes that the community correction director answers to the state Board of Corrections, which has also been pressing for changes since the controversy erupted. Corrections Chairman Benny Magness told AP, however, that he also had not asked Eberhard to retire. It was just time, he said.
UPDATE: Late today the Board of Correction voted to make Sheila Sharp, a top Correction Department administrator, as Eberhard's successor, at least on a temporary basis.