Legislature back at work: Life sentences for young offenders, experimental drugs, fluoride on agendas | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Legislature back at work: Life sentences for young offenders, experimental drugs, fluoride on agendas

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 11:55 AM

The legislature got back to work this morning. Among the happenings:

click to enlarge PROSECUTOR JEGLEY: Opposed law to ease sentencing for youthful offenders.
  • PROSECUTOR JEGLEY: Opposed law to ease sentencing for youthful offenders.
* LIFE SENTENCES FOR YOUTH: A House committee took up HB 1197 to provide some sentences short of life without parole for offenders younger than 18. Parole would be possible in capital murder cases for example, with a potential for a sentence as short as 28 years, or 20 years if the defendant didn't cause the death. The bill arises from court decisions striking down life without parole sentences for young people, decisions that took into account the fact that young people aren't fully developed emotionally. The bill could affect 113 people with retroactive application. It would only make them eligible for parole, but not guarantee it. About 54 of those were convicted of capital murder. Twelve of them are serving life without parole for non-homicide offenses.

The idea drew strong resistance, with several committee members wondering about providing help to criminals while no second chances were available to victims of their crime. These included Rep. Dwight Tosh, a former state trooper, and Rep. Rebecca Petty, whose daughter was killed 15 years ago.

Pulaski Prosecutor Larry Jegley
said he "got" what the bill was about, but he said he, too, was concerned about victims. He spoke for the state's 28 prosecutors. He said they are elected to make the hard decisions about charging youthful offenders as adults. All 28 oppose the bill, he said. He said Arkansas's capital murder statute complied with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling by eliminating mandatory life-without-parole as the only option to capital punishment for young offenders.

He particularly opposed retroactive application of the law, which he said "dishonors" victims, families and juries, which set punishment. He said the legislature wouldn't want to sit at the table and tell a family that had agreed to a life sentence that the defendant was about to be freed from prison.

Prosecutor Cody HIland of Conway objected to a "blanket" approach to dealing with offenders, such as by giving dozens of offenders retroactive access to parole without thinking of the individual cases. 

At the end of almost two hours of discussion, the committee approved Rep. Bob Ballinger's motion to table the bill for possible discussion of amendments.

* EXPERIMENTAL DRUGS: A "right to try" bill giving terminally ill people access to experimental drugs and devices was approved in a House Committee. The bill earlier cleared the Senate. Similar bills have been passed in other states to limited effect. State laws to override FDA rules don't compel companies developing experimental treatments to provide them. Some risk comes with these decisions, too.

* FLUORIDE: The House is hearing testimony on a bill to give water companies local control of addition of fluoride to water. Health officials say local variance from standards would present hazard to the preventive value of fully implemented fluoridation programs. Opposition to fluoride never dies and its numbers seem to have grown this legislative session. The sponsor, Rep. Jack Ladyman, emphasized the need for "local control."  He favors local control on promoting tooth decay. He opposes local control of civil rights for gay people. People who drink the seater should get to vote on what goes in the water. The bill was approved on a voice vote, but a roll call was requested and it was approved 11-5.

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (13)

Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • When Johnny Reb comes marching to Hot Springs

    They are assembling for and against white supremacists symbols in Hot Springs today. Photographs by Brian Cnilsln of the Arkansas Times.
    • Aug 19, 2017
  • The South's Defenders and the scrapheap of history

    And you thought the Civil War was over. Supercharged by a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville and Donald Trump's signal of sympathy, the Rebel remnants of America and assorted white supremacists, bigots and garden variety nuts have taken up arms in defense of symbols of the Lost Cause.
    • Aug 19, 2017
  • Inside the Charlottesville march with the neo-Nazis

    Vice has compiled a powerful documentary inside the white supremacist march that turned violent in Charlottesville last weekend.
    • Aug 19, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Al Gore remembers Dale Bumpers

    Former Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S. Senate colleague of Dale Bumpers, sent a statement on Bumpers' death Friday:
    • Jan 3, 2016
  • UPDATE: Hutchinson moves to cover himself on cut to War Memorial Stadium

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson apparently felt the burn from KARK's exclusive Tuesday night on his plans to cut state support of War Memorial Stadium in half beginning July 1, 2018. He has a so-far secret plan to make the stadium self-sustaining. We bet that doesn't include state support.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • In Little Rock, Marco Rubio sells American exceptionalism

    This is Rubio's axiomatic answer to Donald Trump's insistence that he and he alone will Make America Great Again: America is the greatest, always has been.
    • Feb 22, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation