Arkansas Lawmakers Tackle Low Count of Parole Officers in State Budget Hearings

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- In Arkansas, lawmakers wrapped up day two of state budget hearings ahead of next month's fiscal session.

This afternoon the joint budget committee grilled the Arkansas Department of Correction and Arkansas Community Correction.

One of the biggest issues: staffing.

There are only 450 parole officers to supervise nearly 60,000 people on probation.

That means the average caseload for parole officers comes to 125.

Prison leaders have requested more officers, but the governor's budget currently includes zero.

One Arkansas senator urged his colleagues to change that.

"CSD studies have told us they need intensive monitoring during their first year of release particularly," said State Senator Will Bond. "And when you have 125 people, there's just no way to get the level of service that we should all expect from a public safety angle."

Correctional officers received pay plan increases to help with recruitment efforts.

But while that is a benefit officials say they're not retaining officers.

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