Supreme Court denies prisoner appeal

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a Department of Correction inmate held in Lincoln County who contended that the records supervisor at the prison would not credit him with his earned good time.

Willie Banks Jr. appealed a decision by Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis that denied Banks’ claim that not crediting him with the good time affected his parole eligibility.

Banks was convicted of rape in 1999 and sentenced as a habitual offender to 40 years in prison. In 2000, he was convicted of first-degree battery and sentenced as an habitual offender to 60 years in prison, with the sentences to run concurrently, or at the same time.

In his appeal, Banks contended that because he was eligible for parole on the first-degree battery conviction in 2015, the fact that he is not eligible for parole on the rape sentence deprives him of his rights.

The court ruling said parole eligibility is determined by the law that was in effect at the time the crime was committed.

Banks was relying on a portion of state law to contend that the ADC should only consider his sentence for the first-degree battery in calculating his parole eligibility because it is the “controlling sentence.” That portion of the law has since been repealed.

The high court said Banks’ reliance on the introductory language of that statute is erroneous. That statute provides that persons convicted of first-degree murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and causing a catastrophe are not eligible for parole until they serve 70 percent of their sentence.

Banks admitted in his appeal that he is not eligible for parole on the first-degree battery conviction until 2015, and the fact that he is serving a concurrent sentence for rape, for which he will not be eligible for parole until 2027, does not take away any benefits that he has earned on the first-degree battery conviction.