As Severe Winter Weather Impact Compounds Poor Conditions in Mississippi’s Dangerous Prison System, Local Advocates Call for Immediate System Reforms

JACKSON, MS – Mississippi State Director Alesha Judkins responds to Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) Commissioner Burl Cain’s comments on his efforts to reform Mississippi’s deadly prison system:

“Fast-tracking repairs to mitigate the winter weather-impact in Mississippi’s prisons is a necessary step and should be prioritized. Every person incarcerated in a Mississippi jail or prison deserves, at a minimum, access to water, food, medical care, and heating or cooling every day, including and especially during weather-related crises. While we were encouraged to hear that Commissioner Cain publicly committed to action, the weather-related system failures further reveal many of the prisons’ deteriorating conditions and are yet another reminder that our state is stuck in an incarceration crisis and common sense reforms can not wait another year. So, if Mississippi cares about saving lives, and wants to stop wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and avoid a federal takeover of MDOC – as Commissioner Cain agrees we must do – then our elected officials must get serious about passing meaningful reforms to reduce the prison population. This includes expanding parole and eliminating the devastating habitual laws that incarcerate thousands of our neighbors for years or even decades.

“Taking care of the immediate urgent repairs is a necessary short-term fix. But so much more needs to be done. This is why we urge lawmakers to support the concrete policy changes that will safely reduce our state’s staggering incarceration rate, and keep more Mississippi families safe and together.

“This legislative session, lawmakers can and should expand SB 2795 to ensure that more people have the opportunity for release and pass HB 796 to limit habitual sentences and get more people home. Reforms are long overdue, and Mississippi families simply cannot afford to wait any longer.”

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