When a criminal offender goes before a judge and admits to or is found guilty, the judge may place the offender on probation, if it serves the best interests of justice. Probation, a form of community supervision, is granted to offenders--also called defendants--instead of prison. In Arkansas, probationers must adhere to specific terms and conditions of probation. The Arkansas Department of Community Correction oversees both probation and parole.
Standard probation rules include obeying all laws, reporting to the probation officer when directed, submitting to drug and alcohol testing, completing community service hours and attending counseling. Arkansas community supervision personnel classify each probation offender according to a risk assessment of low, medium or high.
Arkansas offers several specialized probation programs unique to the state. Community-based residential programs, drug court and sex offender caseloads approach clients with specific strategies for those populations. Offenders in each of these must follow different probation terms.
Community-based residential programs provide monitoring, substance abuse treatment, vocational or educational classes, job counseling and life skills classes. Drug courts monitor probationers with chemical dependency issues through structured supervision and treatment. Outpatient and/or residential programs, fines, random drug testing and frequent meetings with the judge impact upon the defendant the seriousness of her charges. If the offender successfully completes the program, charges may be dismissed.
The Arkansas sex offender program closely monitors high-risk, maximum supervision sex offenders. Offenders must comply with increased reporting schedules, specialized counseling, restrictions on living and employment conditions, and strict computer monitoring. These requirements hold probationers accountable and increase community safety.
Intensive probation at the Day Reporting Center (DRC) emphasizes strict offender supervision. The DRC--a non-residential program--develops job skills and provides chemical dependency counseling, education and behavior modification. Offenders may be sentenced to the DRC initially or receive a sentence to the DRC for non-compliance with standard probation terms.