Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley, whose district covers Pulaski and Perry Counties, has given notice that his office will not enforce the state criminal eviction statute.
The ACLU this week announced it would challenge in federal court the 2017 legislature’s attempt to rewrite the state’s one-of-a-kind criminal eviction statute on account of adverse court rulings against the old statute. When law enforcement is used to charge people for failure to pay rent, tenants are deprived of due process and can be essentially jailed for a debt. Pulaski County was among the places where lower court judges had found the statute unconstitutional, though the Arkansas Supreme Court has not reviewed the issue.
Though the federal court suit has just begun, Jegley has made the decision that his office will not enforce the new law, which took effect Aug. 1. It’s his opinion it remains constitutionally suspect. That leaves landlords to use a civil eviction process used elsewhere in the U.S. and already used by many landlords.
Jegley’s statement said it’s his office’s opinion that failure to pay rent is a breach of a civil contract and…
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