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House considers inmate parole bill

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 5th, 2008

Photo/Jordan Edgcomb/For the Telegram Sen. Curt Meier listens to a presentation of a veterans’ mental health appropriations bill before members of the Select Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the State Capitol in Cheyenne.

A Senate bill that would grant temporary parole to inmates with terminal or severe medical conditions that could not be treated within the Department of Corrections is currently up for debate in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

SF0088, sponsored by Goshen County Sen. Curt Meier, provides several criteria for inmates to be granted this parole, including whether or not the inmate is likely to flee or violate any laws if freed and whether or not the inmate’s condition would endanger the public. Inmates sentenced to death or life in prison without parole would not be eligible for medical parole.

Currently the state is only able to simply release inmates under these circumstances. The bill would allow the parole board to have oversight over the inmate.

The bill also allows the parole board to impose conditions on the parole on a case-by-case basis. The board can revoke the medical parole if these conditions are violated.

Meier has previously said the bill was inspired by the release of Jeffrey Reichert in June of 2007. Reichert was sentenced to 3-5 years for felony check fraud and two sentences of 8-14 years for felony grain conversion, but was released after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“We have a lot of questions about this bill and I’m not sure it’s going to make it out of the house,” said Rep. Ed Buchanan.

Buchanan said he is planning to speak to Gov. Dave Freudenthal on the issue.

Numerous other Senate bills are currently being worked on in both houses. SF0029 is currently awaiting a second reading in the House of Representatives. SF0029 would provide $7.3 to public libraries on a match basis.

“The idea is to match, dollar for dollar, monies raised privately by libraries,” Buchanan said.

The match amounts will be based on the ability of each county to privately raise funds. Lower-income counties may get $3 for every $1 raised while higher-income counties may get $1 or $2 for every $1 raised.

In a small ceremony at the Wyoming Capitol on Tuesday, Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed into law two House bills that will establish a regulatory framework for carbon capture.

“We have surveyed through both the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, as well as other sources, and it is clear that these two pieces of legislation are the most comprehensive, most thorough pieces passed by any legislature in the country,” Freudenthal said.

HB0089 establishes that ownership of subsurface pore space - pockets of air beneath the surface - belongs to whoever owns the land above it, even if that includes multiple individuals or companies. HB0090 gives regulatory authority over carbon capture and sequestration, which is capturing harmful carbon emissions from industrial plants and storing it, to the department of environmental quality.

The governor has signed several other bills into law so far this session including HB0005, which modifies the vehicle gasoline tax distribution; HB0014, which establishes tighter regulations on plant nursery stock; and HB0045, which transfers authority of the film industry incentive program to the board of tourism.

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