/Criminal justice reform to address ‘low-hanging fruit,’ but specifics still unknown

Criminal justice reform to address ‘low-hanging fruit,’ but specifics still unknown

Following key efforts in 2014-2018, representatives from the state’s criminal justice system are calling for a third round. Corrections officials claim that the savings from the state’s reduction in prison population have not been reinvested to help prison inmates reenter the community, prison programming, mental health and addiction treatment. Pelicia Hall (state corrections commissioner) said that Mississippi has not yet seen the full material results of the state’s labor. Hall stated to a joint meeting between the Senate and House corrections committees that Mississippi should emulate Louisiana’s model by creating a fund for savings in incarceration. This money would go back into the justice systems instead of the general treasury. After the hearing, Bill Kinkade (R-Byhalia), House corrections Chairman, said that he and his attorneys were working on a placeholder legislation, which lawmakers sometimes use to advance legislation even though the language is not finalized. “We’re just going t o deal with low-hanging fruits,” stated Sen. Sampson Jackson II of Preston, who chairs Senate Corrections Committee. He did not address violent offenders like rapists. Legislators and the governor had been discussing various measures in the months before this session. Phil Bryant suggested measures like revising the state’s sentencing laws, and changing how criminal records can be expunged. Monday’s hearing heard from speakers who advocated for reforming cash bail and reducing time spent on probation and parole. They also suggested that former prisoners be given the skills and resources they need to avoid going back to prison upon their release. Representatives from the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the state prosecutors association were present at Monday’s hearing. They also advocated for reforming cash bail, reducing the time people spend on probation and parole, and equipping former prisoners with skills and resources to avoid returning to prison after their release.