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We All Pay: Mississippi’s Harmful Habitual Laws

Mississippi has an incarceration crisis, driven in large part by its use of habitual sentences.



Long prison sentences have become the norm in Mississippi. First-time drug possession can land you in prison for 20 years. Stealing tools from a garage can result in 25 years behind bars. On top of these already extreme sentences, people can have extra years, decades, or even life imprisonment added to their sentences if they have ever been convicted of crimes in the past because of the state’s habitual laws.

Learn how these extreme penalties keep families apart and hold the state back.

The Costs of Inaction: How Mississippi Can Learn From Alabama’s Experience

After several lawsuits and a federal investigation into its prison conditions, neighboring Alabama provides a cautionary tale of the costs of inaction. Alabama is slated to spend nearly $1 billion addressing its prison crisis and Mississippi may follow the same path. It’s not too late for Mississippi to avoid Alabama’s fate, but lawmakers must act now to address the state’s dangerously high prison population.

Mississippi Leaders Can Act Now to Reduce Extreme Sentences and Save Lives

A string of tragic and avoidable deaths in Mississippi prisons could soon be compounded by the COVID-19 crisis: this FWD.us report estimates that nearly every single person currently in Mississippi Department of Corrections custody is likely to become infected with the virus without bold, immediate action from Governor Reeves and state officials.

From Parchman to COVID-19: A Timeline of Tragedy Without Action

Since December 2019, a series of dramatic and escalating series has gripped MDOC and the people in its custody. An unprecedented spate of deaths followed by a series of lawsuits, central leadership turnover, and now the COVID-19 crisis demand action from the governor to immediately reduce the state’s dangerously high prison population and ensure the health and safety of the people incarcerated in Mississippi prisons.

We want to hear from you

At FWD.us, we believe that incarcerated people and their families know what is needed to end Mississippi’s incarceration crisis. If you or someone in your life has been incarcerated in Mississippi, please consider filling out a short survey to get in touch. If you have a loved one that is currently incarcerated that would like to share their own story, please email ms-stories@fwd.us, and we will mail a survey form to their facility.

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