JIMMY GAZAWAY: Gets our hat tip of the day.

On two bills alone, Republican Rep. Jimmy Gazaway of Paragould becomes a contender for majority party member of the year.

From a delegation often working to oppress the needy, comfort the rich and curb individual rights, Gazaway breaks out:


* He’s lead sponsor of the latest effort to bring Arkansas landlord-tenant law into the 20th Century, maybe even the 21st, by giving tenants rights to a habitable residence.

* Today, he introduced legislation encouraging a look at the cost — both financial and in harm to inmates — from use of solitary confinement or segregation in the state’s prisons. His bill begins by noting other states have reduced spending by reducing use of solitary confinement. But his request for studies of suicide and health disorders among inmates sent to solitary betrays a serious interest in human cost, too. Most experts agree solitary can constitute torture and lead to conditions that go unnoticed until more damage is done.


Good on Gazaway.

On the prison front also today, Rep. Rebecca Petty has introduced legislation on shackling pregnant inmates. It would continue to allow the practice if warranted by potential violence by the inmate or flight risk, but it seems on the surface to codify procedures in a way to take care in use of restraints. Arkansas lost a lawsuit in 2009 over shackling pregnant inmates. Prison officials resisted past efforts to limit it and it’s a practice that continues today.


Unshackling women has become a facet of the Koch network’s interest in judicial reform. So credit to them where due, too.