Jackson County Lawmaker's Bill for Lighter Meth Sentences Passes in Senate

FEBRUARY 1, 2005 - Posted at 7:44 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Concerns about prison space won out over a desire for stiff methamphetamine sentences in a vote in a legislative committee.

The bill by Senator Jack Critcher of Grubbs would exempt some methamphetamine makers from a law that requires those convicted of making the drug with the intent to distribute to serve at least 70 percent of their prison sentence.

The measure would exempt first or second-time offenders in possession of less than five grams of the drug.  Critcher said less than five grams of meth is usually considered an amount for personal use.

Critcher said he wants to separate the dealers from the addicts, and not add to the state's prison crowding problems.

The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)