A Flaw In Our Legal System: The Sheila Blair Case

    10:26 PM, Sep 26, 2012   |    comments
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    BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- It is a flaw in our legal system. THV recently learned of one woman's 11th alcohol-related offense that we know of and after three days in jail, she is free again.

    Her name is Sheila Blair and since 1995, she has been convicted 10 times for DWI. Monday, Blair went to jail again for public intoxication and drinking in public. After a three-day stay for violating her parole, we heard she would be released today so we went to the Saline County Jail to give Blair an opportunity to explain herself. She did not welcome our cameras.

    Monday, Bryant police arrested her during a traffic stop after discovering her drinking in the passenger seat of a friend's car, this while on parole for DWI.

    "I don't know if I've had anybody quite like her," says Saline County Prosecutor Ken Casady.

    In 2007, a judge gave Blair ten years in prison for her 10th DWI.

    "She went to prison for the maximum sentence and then paroled out under the emergency relief act," says Casady.

    Due to overcrowding, Blair got out less than a year later. Before that, in 2004 a judge sentenced her to two years in a treatment facility but, once again, she paroled out after one year.

    "If Miss Blair were to get another DWI, be arrested for driving, despite everything that is in her past, her charge would be DWI first offense," says Casady.

    Here is why. Arkansas has a five year rule, meaning DWI becomes a felony offense on the fourth conviction but only if they fall in a five year period and since Blair's last offense happened in April of 2007, her slate's wiped clean.

    "She's had a extrodinary amount of trouble and you know this might be an indication that everything the system has provided her has not helped," says Casady.

    An extreme case, Casady says that has his hands tied--until her actions hurt someone other than herself.

    "If people are wondering, 'Well why can't we do something to her?' Well, these are the things. It's the law and that is how it is right now," says Casady.

    The parole board has the ability to send Blair to another treatment facility, sanction her or send her back to prison to serve the rest of her previous ten year sentence. We made calls to the parole department about her case but did not receive a response by our deadline.

    As for Blair's latest charge of public intoxication, Casady says that is a misdemeanor and Blair could go to court and plead not guilty. However, the maximum sentence she could serve if she is convicted will be thirty days.

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