Se­nate fa­vors lim­its on in­mate pro­gram

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - — Michael R. Wickline

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.

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