LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (KTVE/KARD) — On Monday, October 24, 2022, The Arkansas Department of Corrections admitted to a legislative committee that it had misinterpreted one element of parole eligibility law for seven years. Because of this, over 100 inmates were released on parole early as a result of the mistake, and two others were released, then re-incarcerated within days.
On average, 290 inmates will now serve another 9.5 years after expecting to get on parole sooner. One man even said that his son will be serving 19 more years than expected because of this mistake.
Secretary of the Department of Corrections, Solomon Graves, said that the department realized it had an issue as early as 2016, but that concerns raised by communities where the parolees live finally led it to seek an opinion from the attorney general.
The mistake comes from a history of the DOC not considering residential burglary as a violent felony offense when calculating sentences. However, a May 2021 opinion from the attorney general classified it as a violent offense and stated that an offender convicted of this crime before April 2015 and who then committed another offense after is not eligible for parole.
Graves noted that the 101 parolees released have inherent liberty, which prevented the department from returning them to custody. Of those, 11 have violated parole and are now back in prison.