Pre-trial “risk assessments” for non-violent offenders is a tool that could be used to help jail overcrowding, and judges across the state are in the process of validating the assessments.
Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp addressed this and other top concerns Friday during a visit to the Sebastian County Courts Building. He said that pre-trial risk assessment tools are “one of the main issues” for chief justices across the nation because of jail overcrowding.
“A large number of people are going to be able to be released prior to trial that would normally be detained,” Kemp said. “So, it would open up jail space and eventually prison space. But that is an issue that is being addressed and I anticipate we will be addressing more here in Arkansas.”
Marty Sullivan, director of the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts, confirmed there are “several judges in the state” who his office is having “strong conversations” with concerning the validation of those risk assessments and they are starting with the juvenile detainee risk assessment.
Sullivan was responding to a question posed by Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck on state activity with the assessment validations.
Kemp, who took office in January, and some of his staff are conducting a tour of the state’s 28 judicial districts to hear concerns. Fort Smith was their third stop.
Hollenbeck noted in his query with Kemp that there are more than 115 detainees waiting for a trial while at the Sebastian County Detention Center and the county’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee is looking at the risk…
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