In the state of Arkansas, an offender may be required to serve informal probation, which is supervised by the court. Alternatively, they may be required to serve formal probation, which is supervised by the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) Division of Community Correction. The court determines whether an offender is eligible for probation and the type of probation for which they are eligible.
Basics Regarding Probation
Either a misdemeanor or a felony conviction can result in a sentence that involves probation. A judge in circuit court, which is the general jurisdiction trial court in Arkansas, can issue a sentence that involves probation. There are regional offices for the ADC.
An offender must report regularly to their probation officer. If they violate the conditions of their probation, it may be revoked. The offender may be arrested by a law enforcement officer and sent to county jail or prison for the maximum term for their criminal offense.
How ADC Works in Practice
ADC operates through a statewide case management system. Offenders may participate in programs to reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend. Programs include substance abuse services and transitional housing. An offender’s probation officer may also refer them to other programs that address needs that do not directly relate to re-offending, such as financial education and employment skills.
A probationer is typically required to undergo random drug screens. A probationer must also pay a supervision fee. The ADC places a high priority on victim’s rights. It monitors an offender’s repayment of restitution, defined as money damages owed to a victim.
Process of Supervision
First, a probation officer evaluates the offender through an interview and risk assessment tool. This allows the officer to identify factors to take into account when developing the offender’s individualized supervision plan. As the offender progresses through supervision, the probation officer continually reassesses the potential risk that they pose to others in the community. The supervision plan helps the officer address obstacles that may impede the offender’s ability or desire to successfully complete supervision.
Community Correction Centers
A community correction center (CCC) is a community-based residential treatment center. Arkansas Code provides that the court may attach conditions to probation that are reasonably necessary to assist the defendant in living a law-abiding life. CCCs give offenders structure and supervision during drug and alcohol treatment. These centers also allow offenders to participate in educational and vocational programs, employment counseling, socialization and life skills programs, community work transition and other forms of treatment and programs.
An offender with a nonviolent or non-sex related offense may be ordered to a CCC through one of three ways: a judicial transfer, Probation Plus, or drug court short-term treatment. In a judicial transfer, the offender is sentenced to ADC with a transfer to incarceration at a CCC where the sentence is four years or less. In Probation Plus, an offender is ordered by the judge to serve up to one year at a CCC. A Probation Plus offender remains under the authority of the court and must return to probation after completing confinement.
In drug court short-term treatment, an offender participating in a drug court program may be sanctioned by their judge to a 30-, 60- or 90-day intensive treatment program at a CCC. The offender remains under the authority of the court and returns to drug court supervision after completing confinement. A drug court offender may also be sanctioned by the judge to incarceration at a CCC for up to one year.
Supervision Sanction Program
The Supervision Sanction Program (SSP) is an intensive residential treatment program, followed by aftercare services under community supervision. A resident finishes the program by progressing through a phase system. The length of time in treatment depends on the program track, which may be 90 or 180 days.
How long they are in treatment also relates to their participation in treatment. A resident may be eligible for early release if they meet certain criteria. They may see early release granted for up to 50 percent of their time if their participation and progress meet the eligibility criteria.
Sex Offenders and Transitional Housing
The Sex Offender Aftercare Program has specialized probation officers who supervise level 3 and level 4 sex offenders in the community. These probation officers have specialized training in mental health, voice stress analysis and polygraphic analysis. The goal of the program is to increase public safety and provide offender accountability.
The ADC’s transitional housing program provides housing for offenders who have been placed on probation by a circuit or district court. Transitional housing can help an offender have a stable and secure place to live when exiting the criminal justice system or at other points during their probation. Programs in a transitional housing facility may include group counsel, 12-step programs, parenting classes and anger management classes.
Violation of Probation
Arkansas law provides that an offender who violates the terms of probation must attend a hearing regarding the violation. At the violation of probation (VOP) hearing, the court determines whether the state has met its burden. The state is required to prove to the “reasonable satisfaction” standard that the offender violated the terms of their probation.
“Reasonable satisfaction” is a lower standard than the “beyond all reasonable doubt” standard of proof in a new criminal case. If an offender is deemed to have violated probation, they may be incarcerated for the maximum period for their offense, minus time served. If the offender has not violated probation, they return to serve the remainder of their term of probation.
Terminate Probation Early
An offender may file a motion with the court to terminate probation early if they have successfully completed all requirements of their probation. This may include completing classes and community service hours and paying restitution to the victim. The offender must show that they have a history of complying with the requirements of probation, such as passing drug tests and meeting regularly with their probation officer.
Types of Juvenile Probation
A minor under 18 years of age may be required to serve a period of probation as part of their sentence for a delinquent act. A probation officer is assigned to ensure that the minor is compliant with the court’s order and follows the terms of the probation. These may include school attendance, drug tests, counseling appointments and obeying parents.
A juvenile who violates the court order or terms and conditions of probation can be found in contempt of court. The court may extend the period of formal supervision, require the minor to attend boot camp, counseling or residential treatment, or sentence the minor to a juvenile detention center.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.