LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Four-hundred-two parole officers statewide keep track of more than 56,000 probationers and parolees. Those figures come from the Department of Community Correction (D.C.C.).
The D.C.C. handles this massive task, and some have said they could be doing a better job. THV 11 spoke with the Department of Community Correction, and they said they're not ready to answer our questions about the workload some of their officers handle. But when THV 11 called Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, he was more than willing to talk about what he sees as a broken system.
"I just think we can do a whole lot better job," Stodola said. "It's impossible, at least under the current system, for our parole and probation officers to keep up with what these folks are doing... If we're going to try and really be serious about reducing recidivism rates we've got to do a better job."
State senator David Sanders took it as a personal quest in the most recent legislative session to start fixing the problem.
"We've known for a long time that we have numerous problems with the parole system in Arkansas," Sanders said. "I think it is broken, and I think what we did in the legislative session was a great first step to fix the problem with parole."
Sanders sponsored three bills in the last session aimed at parole reform. He wants to see a cultural and philosophical change in the D.C.C. from the top down. Mayor Stodola wants more efficient use of the money he's already pouring into the problem.
"We are spending nearly $6 million a year on these kinds of issues," explained Stodola. "And, the citizens of Little Rock deserve better than what they're getting out of the Department of Community Correction."
Mayor Stodola also said that he believes the D.C.C. should take a closer look at using modern technology to help monitor parolees. Things like GPS locators can help keep track of offenders, and he feels the state needs to increase the amount of money available to use that kind of technology to its advantage.
THV 11 will continue to follow this story. Rhonda Sharp with the D.C.C. expects to give THV 11 more information in the coming days to break down the figures.