by Max Brantley
A legislative panel has convened for at least the third time to question Community Correction officials about parole practices and lapses in the system, particularly the release of a multiple rules violator charged in a Little Rock murder.
This significant fact was tweeted from the meeting, a quote from new Community Correction Director Sheila Sharp, courtesy of Rep. David Meeks:
DCC Interim Director Sheila Sharp says that the county jail back-up has gone from 400 to 700.
Told you so. Legislators and media have danced all around this issue, particularly when the subject came up of a long-standing policy not to extend probation for probationers who failed to show up for meetings with probation officers. Rigid enforcement of every violation inevitably would stack correctional facilities with prisoners. They'd back up in jails. They'd further fill state prisons. That costs money. I believe political savvy insiders like the notoriously unavailable Leroy Brownlee did what they could to keep from unduly rocking the boat.
Well-intentioned people can talk all they want about better procedures, better communication and all the rest. But a certain percentage of parolees and probationers WILL commit violations large and small. Swift, certain punishment — whether by incarceration or home detention or ankle bracelet monitoring — costs money.