Gov. Sarah Sanders announced Wednesday night that she was appointing Lona McCastlain as Chair of the Arkansas Post-prison Transfer Board. As chair of the seven-member parole board, McCastlain will also have a seat on the Arkansas Board of Corrections.

Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson originally appointed McCastlain to the parole board in 2017. Sanders reappointed her to a new seven-year term last month. McCastlain’s promotion to the vacant chair position means that Sanders will need to appoint someone else to fill the seat McCastlain previously held.


An attorney from Austin, McCastlain was the Lonoke County prosecutor from 1998-2008. She made national headlines in 2006  when she charged the Lonoke mayor, police chief, and police chief’s wife on charges that included manufacturing methamphetamine and using jail inmates for sex. In 2007, she spoke out about then-Gov. Mike Huckabee’s granting of pardons and clemency to more inmates than the three previous governors combined.

While McCastlain’s seat on the Board of Corrections comes amid an ongoing power struggle between the governor and the board, the appointment is unlikely to alter the number of pro-Sanders votes on the board. McCastlain is replacing Jamol Jones as chair. Jones had replaced John Felts as chair, and Felts was one of two votes against firing former corrections secretary Joe Profiri last month. 


Jones, who was Sanders’ prior appointment as parole board chair, resigned on Feb. 2 after reports surfaced showing Jones had been fired from the Benton Police Department in 2018 for lying about having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.