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AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S


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and funding of approximately $27.8 million for the next two state fiscal years. Also, the Governor supported and the General Assembly adopted the legislation offered by the Arkansas Sheriffs Association (ASA) and the Association of Counties (AAC) to assure that the state is a better partner. SB329 (sponsored by Sen. Hickey; Rep. Wright), Act 1201, directs the Department of Corrections and Community Corrections to pay reimbursement for county jail back up monthly and has an effective date of Oct. 1, 2015. Under the act, after the proper documentation is verified, county jail back up will be paid monthly (without awaiting the transfer of the inmate to the state or release of the inmate). There was also progress on other operations between corrections and the counties. HB1374 (sponsored by Rep. Wright, Sen. Caldwell), Act 1171, allows the sheriff to transport state inmates to the nearest facility of the Department of Corrections or Community Corrections (under prior law the sheriffs had to transport inmates all over the state to particular facilities as directed by state corrections officials). HB1371 (sponsored by Rep. Wright, Sen. Caldwell), Act 1239, provides for parole revocation hearings to be scheduled in seven days after arrest and conducted within 14 days after arrest. Act 1239 also provides that unless the sheriff agrees to hold parolees without new charges or new convictions in a local jail, such parolees may be ordered to be taken by a parole officer to a facility of the Department of Corrections or Community Corrections for detention (not our local county jails). This reaffirms that local jails are for persons accused awaiting access to the courts or convicted of crimes, ACA 14- 14-802(a), not for parolees with their parole revoked and to be returned by law to custody of the state. HB1543 (sponsored by Rep. Micah Neal), Act 946, deletes the 30-day gap between conviction of a state inmate and acceptance of responsibility for inmate medical expenses. The Act mandates the state to be obligated for inmate medical expenses for a state inmate upon receipt of a correct sentencing documentation. Throughout the session the sponsors of these bills worked with General Assembly. SB472, sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, now Act


A


895 of 2015, is the centerpiece of legislation to reform the criminal justice system, enhance public safety and to reduce prison overcrowding. The Act provides for a litany of reforms, some of which are: residential burglary will be defined as a violent crime for purposes of detaining the inmate longer without parole; the Department of Human Services (DHS) shall allow an inmate to apply for Medicaid online 45 days before being released; incarceration will result in suspension from Medicaid/private option (previously incarceration resulted in revocation of Medicaid); establishes a specialty court program (drug courts, mental health, veteran’s courts; DWI, juvenile drug court; hope court; smart court, etc.); fees from defendants to assist in funding for specialty courts and public defenders; bad behavior/activities time during incarceration will be added to considerations for parole eligibility; parolee/probationer will be subject to warrantless search by parole or law enforcement officers; parolees or


COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2015


ct 895 of 2015 is the centerpiece of legislation to reform the criminal justice system, enhance public safety and to reduce prison overcrowding.


probationers nearing release shall be referred to limited mental health or substance abuse treatment, or both, when part of court order, supervision plan or treatment plan. One feature of the act is to implement “pay for success” grants to judicial districts that will provide payment for intervention services if evidence-based practice shows to reduce recidivism rates. The Governor’s plan invests $2.8 million ($100,000 dollars per judicial district) in grants for drug treatment courts and other alternative sentencing programs for non-violent offenders to be divided equally by statewide by judicial district. Under Act 895 the Parole Board shall be subject to experience requirements. Also, the General Assembly shall review actions and records of the Parole Board, including use of intermediate sanctions to assure the use of the grid (not solely use of revocation of parole) and proper release for nonviolent felons with light sentences under electronic monitoring. Act 895 is a comprehensive approach at reform. The AAC, ASA and CJAA will stay engaged in the implementation of reforms. Each county and judicial district needs to take an active role in the criminal justice system. The notion of legislators throwing money into an ever-growing prison system, at the estimated cost of $100 million for a new state prison every few years, has been determined by the Governor and the General Assembly as inefficient use of tax dollars. Section 14 of Act 895 provides for fairness for counties, the state and the taxpayers. Many hospitals and medical providers in


and the United States


reimbursement for


Arkansas seek


However, in the absence of an agreement or a law (such as Section 14 of Act 895 of 2015) some hospitals and medical providers have billed counties or local governments for sums far in excess of the costs for services or the Medicaid rate. Section 14 of Act 895 provides that a local jail or detention facility shall not be charged for the provision of medical services and treatment to an inmate in excess of the Medicaid reimbursement rate for the same or similar charges. Counties can’t afford or budget for exorbitant inmate medical expenses. The Governor and 90th General Assembly tackled a wide range of issues concerning the provision and costs of medical services in Arkansas. The protections under Section 14 of Act 895 from a cap based on costs will assist several counties greatly in budgeting and payment of inmate medical based upon costs or the Medicaid rate. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Governor and 90th General Assembly for addressing this important issue. Also, we would not have this law in Arkansas today if not for Sandy Horton, director of the Kansas Sheriffs Association. He traveled to Arkansas and to various states to assist in passing laws providing for a cap on costs. The ASA and CJAA will address the implementation of these changes in our upcoming conferences. The “Telemedicine Act,” SB133 (sponsored by Sen. Cecile


medical expenses based upon costs or the established Medicaid rate.


inmate See “REFORM” on Page 18 >>> 17


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