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Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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THE ARKANSAS BURIAL LAW

Human burials in Arkansas have long been threatened by looting, grave robbing and loss through development activities. Act 753 of 1991 made the desecration of a human grave or the purchase, sale or bartering of human remains and associated grave goods a Class A misdemeanor on the first offense, or a Class D felony for subsequent offenses; in addition, the display of human remains for profit is a Class B misdemeanor. Furthermore, provisions were made to insure that the study of human remains be conducted in accordance with standards contained in A State Plan for the Conservation of Archeological Resources in Arkansas.

Act 1533 of 1999 amended the penalty for the desecration or trade of human remains to a Class D felony on the first offense or a Class C felony for subsequent offenses. The penalty for the display of human remains was increased to a Class C felony.

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program now has in place a permit system to enable the legal excavation of human remains by qualified professional archeologists. In addition, guidelines were developed, in consultation with the State Archeologist, for archeologists and law enforcement agencies that present the highlights of the Unmarked Graves Act and provide steps to be taken if a violation is detected.





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