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News Scan

Bill Calls for Life Sentences for Certain Sex Offenders: Oregon's Senate President Peter Courtney has proposed a bill that would make some sex offenders eligible for a mandatory life sentence without parole if convicted of certain sex crimes.  Hannah Hoffman of the Statesman Journal reports that Senate Bill 1517 applies to first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual penetration, and requires the offender to meet four specific criteria.  In order for the offender to be eligible for the LWOP sentence, he/she must have been at least 18 years old at the time of the crime, be identified as 'high risk' on a sex offender risk assessment, show a tendency to injure or target children under 12, and present a serious danger to the public.  The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.  

Convicted Killer Escapes Prison, Takes Woman Hostage: A Michigan man convicted of murdering four people and ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison is on the loose after authorities say he disguised himself as a prison worker and escaped.  Fox News reports that 40-year-old Michael Elliot dug a hole underneath two of the prison's perimeter fences Sunday evening before taking a woman hostage, forcing her to drive him nearly 100 miles south towards the Indiana state line.  Elliot was convicted of first-degree murder in 1994 after police say he murdered four people and burned down their home in an attempt to steal money from a drug dealer.

Nebraska Considers Prison Reforms: Nebraska's prison population has risen to 153 percent of its intended design capacity, prompting lawmakers to draft ideas in order to address the issue and alleviate overcrowding.  The Associated Press reports that Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has suggested reducing the prison population by shipping as many as 150 state prison inmates to county jail and ending an agreement that has the sate housing 20 federal inmates.  Lawmakers have also proposed a bill that would allow offenders convicted of serious crimes like murder and sexual assault to be eligible for "good time" credits if they behave and participate in rehabilitative programs.  The bill is set to heard on February 6.

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