Senate favors limits on inmate program
The Senate narrowly approved legislation that would impose tougher restrictions on a prison program that allows some inmates to be housed in county jails for work release.
The Senate voted 18-3 for Senate Bill 377 by Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, who filed the measure after an inmate in the Act 309 program was charged in the slaying of a guard late last year in the Miller County jail, which is in Hickey’s district. Eighteen votes are required for approval in the 35-member Senate. The bill now goes to the House.
The inmate accused of killing the guard had been imprisoned on charges of capital murder and first-degree battery, crimes that had not prevented him from being eligible for the program. The bill would preclude from the program inmates convicted of most violent crimes, with some exceptions, such as burglary or illegally firing a gun from a car.