/Cutting prison population in half could save Mississippi millions of dollars; report details how

Cutting prison population in half could save Mississippi millions of dollars; report details how

Although such a daunting task might seem daunting, the report, “Blueprint for Smart Justice”, provides a set of reforms that will be implemented across all criminal offense categories in the state. It also includes their policy outcomes, prison population impacts, and cost savings. According to the report’s authors, the state could release approximately 8,700 people from Mississippi prisons if they carried them out. According to daily population counts, Mississippi currently houses over 19,000 inmates. This report is one 50 “blueprints” that the ACLU produces for each state. It is produced in partnership with the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute as part of a two-year research project to reduce prison populations and address racial disparities in prisons throughout the country. In a statement, Jennifer Riley-Collins (ACLU of Mississippi Executive Director) said that Mississippi’s prison population has declined in recent years. However, the state is third in the nation for the number of people it locks up each day. Riley-Collins stated that “this addiction to prison is ruining communities and families and costing taxpayers approximately $330 million in corrections expenses.” The report shows that Mississippi’s prison population has increased by 392 percent over the past 80 years. This is a change of approach. The report also highlights significant racial disparities in prison populations. While black men account for 34% of Mississippi’s male population they only make up 66% of the prison population. According to the report, drug offenses are “leading drivers” of high incarceration rates in Mississippi. The state has recently passed two rounds in criminal justice reform laws. In 2014, Mississippi’s legislature passed a major overhaul of the system. This led to a decrease in prison population. And this year, legislators expanded parole eligibility for those sentenced for nonviolent offenses. The report suggests further reforming sentencing policies, if not drastic changes, and adding more alternatives to prisoneration. This work involves “implementing explicit racial Justice strategies”, such as ending overpolicing in communities and reducing pretrial detention. The report states that this solution is dependent on the state’s citizens, policy makers, communities and criminal justice advocates. It can also be modified or tailored using an interactive tool, which allows stakeholders to chart their own path towards criminal justice reform. According to Wednesday’s statement, the ACLU’s Mississippi branch plans to host a briefing about the report in the “coming weeks.” Mississippi Today received an advance copy the report.