pass for state inmates possible
===Prisons are overcrowded, but the Legislature
is not ignoring the problem. At least two bills address the challenge
of crowded jails, but neither bill calls for building more prisons.
=== One bill, sponsored by Jack Critcher,
D-Batesville, would reduce the mandatory sentence for small-time meth
manufacturers from 10 years to three years if they're not repeat offenders
and don't have at least 5 grams of meth when they're busted. The bill
would no longer require that they serve a minimum of 70 percent of their
=== Another bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve
Faris, D-Malvern, would let in-mates apply for clemency more often
every couple of years instead of the current four years. Victims' rights
advocates, who have fought for the four-year wait, don't want that changed.
Nor do they want the 70 percent requirement for prison sentences dropped.
=== The drug bill passed the Senate Judiciary
Committee on Monday by a 4-3 vote. Its sponsor says people who make
meth only for themselves are less dangerous than big-time dealers.
=== "We're busting addicts when we should
be busting dealers," Critcher told us Tuesday. "We should be separating
addicts from dealers."
=== But Bilenda-Harris Ritter, an attorney
who understands the criminal justice system about as well as anybody,
thinks Critcher's and Faris' bills are both wrong-headed. Referring
to Critcher's meth bill, she said,
=== "It sounds like someone trying to address
the overcrowding of prisons. I do not think reduced sentences are the
right way to address that. "Meth is one of the worst things to happen
to our society, and just reducing sentences will send those convicted
back to the same career path that is so destructive of society and especially
=== "When inmates get out, they more often
than not commit additional crimes," she said. As for letting inmates
petition for clemency every couple of years, Harris-Ritter says, "This
is not the way to address overcrowding in prisons especially as it
relates to murderers."
===Harris-Ritter's parents were murdered
in Arkansas, and she's often had to fly here from California to fight
clemency petitions from her parents' killer.
=== "Many of the clemency requests
are frivolous, so they are not going to get granted anyway," she
continued. "This will cause a huge backlog in the governor's office
and also at the Post-Prison Transfer Board.
=== "If the legislature really wants to
address overcrowding, then there needs to be a way of convicts learning
skill sets that help them be productive when they are back in our communities
so they do not fall back on crime as a means of survival then they
don't come back.
=== "I do believe that there needs to be
measures taken instead to make convicts productive members of society
after they have served their full sentences.
=== "I know there is a program, I think
in California, where some in-mates train search-and-rescue dogs. It
teaches a skill and responsibility. Obviously they are highly screened,
but it shows that there can be some really creative things done."
=== Creativity in the Arkansas prisons
system? We let them out so the police can arrest them again. Sad but
seek more openness on pardons
you talk to prosecutors around the state, many of them will tell you they're
unhappy that Gov. Huckabee pardons criminals without letting law-enforcement
officials or victims' families know why he's doing it, as he's required
by law. [FULL
prosecutors go on offensive
trade jabs over sentencing, pardoning of killers, other thugs
prosecutors around the state are upset with Gov. Huckabee for grant- ing
clemency to violent criminals, but he is blaming the prosecutors for often
not seeking the maximum penalty and keeping felons locked up longer.
B.B. goes home then to funeral
King didn't seem his usual old self last weekend when he was performing
in his hometown of Indianola, Miss.
___ He put on two fine shows in one evening,
but he seemed a bit distracted. [FULL
Clintons in lovefest with Bush
there's anything more unappealing than watching politicians mud wrestle,
it's watching them pretend they like each other.
insincerity, Presi-dent Bush praised his predecessor on Monday during an
unveiling of the Clintons' official (and utterly mediocre) White House portraits.
World-class blues played near here
couple of great blues musicians showed up at Sticky Fingerz in Little Rock
on Thursday night.
___ Michael Burks, probably Arkansas' most talented
young bluesman, dropped in to catch Deborah Coleman and her band and he
was impressed. [FULL
Reagan had won in '76
of words and thousands of images have filled newspapers and television screens
since the passing of Ronald Reagan on Saturday.
colleagues, politicians and scholars have discussed every facet of his remarkable
life: How he started out poor, became a Holly-wood star, found a second
career on television, then a third as a corporate spokesman, and yet another,
more spectacular career as a politician.
His life has been thoroughly examined this week, but one crucial period
and its consequences are virtually overlooked: His losing out to President
Ford for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 1976, which,
it could be argued, helped the Soviets stay in power for several more years.
These Vets couldn't go to unveiling
Albert Jonikas couldn't make it to the dedication of the World War II memorial
over the weekend.
an 84-year-old veteran of the Second World War who saw action in the Pacific
- Iwo Jima, Saipan, Okinawa, which was near where the Japanese surrendered
- but he doesn't get around much anymore. [FULL