2011 Legislative Preview: HB 1021

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Bill Name: AN ACT TO AMEND § 5-13-211 TO INCLUDE ALL CERTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS

Sponsors:Jon Woods (R-93), 479-200-3100, woodsforarkansas@gmail.com; Justin Harris (R-87), 479-871-8542, Justin.Harris@arkansashouse.org; Andre Lea (R-68), 479-967-4922, andrea.lea@arkansashouse.org.

Purpose: To amend Arkansas Code Annotated § 5-13-211, which defines the crime of “aggravated assault upon an employee of a correctional facility” to more broadly include “aggravated assault upon an employee of a correctional facility or certified law enforcement officer.”  As the statute currently reads, an inmate could be charged with this crime if, “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the personal hygiene of the employee,” s/he purposely did something (i.e. throw bodily fluids, basically) that created a potential danger of infection to the employee.  However, s/he could not be charged with this crime if s/he did the same thing to a law enforcement officer who was on the premises in an official capacity but was not an employee of the facility.

Pros for Average Arkansans: It’s hard to say that this kind of law would have any effect one way or the other for “average” Arkansans.  At most, I guess it would have some sort of retributive effect for certain law enforcement personnel and their families.  That said, it makes little sense NOT to have this law, especially when other crimes — see, e.g., § 5-13-201, Battery in the first degree — are enhanced if the victim is a law enforcement officer.

Cons for Average Arkansans: Theoretically, a potential for more money being spent on trials, but I have a hard time picturing a flood of cases coming from this law.  So, more realistically, none.

Official BHR Position: Strongly support