- Associated Press - Friday, January 11, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The interim director of Arkansas’ parole agency has been selected to officially lead the department.

The Board of Corrections on Thursday unanimously named Kevin Murphy as director of Arkansas Community Correction, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported . The department oversees more than 60,000 parolees and probationers.

Officials had considered interviewing other candidates for the director’s role but ultimately felt Murphy was the best choice, Board Chairman Benny Magness said.

Murphy became interim director in July after the board fired Sheila Sharp. Sharp said she was fired after seeking a staff increase against Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s orders.

During his time leading the agency, Murphy restructured how caseloads are calculated, leaving out offenders who are in temporary lock-ups or those who are deemed as “inactive.”

Some lawmakers criticized Murphy regarding his work with nonprofit groups while he was the agency’s deputy director. Murphy’s work with the Arkansas Association of Correctional Employees Trust may have created a conflict of interest, according to a March report by the Arkansas Legislative Audit.

Murphy has denied the allegations. He said he plans to continue working for the organization but on a volunteer basis.

Hutchinson plans to merge Community Correction with the Department of Correction, which runs the state’s prison system, as part of an effort to reorganize the state government.

Murphy said he’s unsure what the restructuring will look like, but it will likely focus on reorganizing logistical areas, including information technology and human resources.

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