JACKSON, MS – FWD.us Mississippi State Director Alesha Judkins issued the following statement today on criminal justice reform legislation advancing in the 2021 legislative session:
“Mississippi lawmakers from both parties clearly recognize the need for urgent criminal justice reforms that will save lives and reduce wasteful spending on prisons. The bipartisan support for bills which would tackle some of the most serious drivers of Mississippi’s ongoing incarceration crisis reflects broader statewide support for reform.
“These bills are an important first step to reforms that will ultimately increase public safety and save taxpayers millions of dollars. Right now, Mississippi has the second-highest imprisonment rate in the country, and has yet to follow the lead of neighboring states that have safely reduced their prison population through approaches like expanding parole and reforming habitual penalties. House Bill 796 is a great start at reforming outdated and extreme habitual sentencing laws. Senate Bill 2795 will need improvements to ensure it extends parole eligibility to more people and truly realizes taxpayer savings, but we are confident that legislators will work to make this bill stronger.
“The only serious solution to Mississippi’s prison crisis is to reduce the incarcerated population safely. The reform bills that lawmakers are pursuing are based on solid research and proven strategies that have been implemented across the country. Advancing meaningful parole and sentencing reforms to the Governor’s desk should be a priority for every Mississippi lawmaker. We applaud the legislature for the work they’ve done thus far, and urge them to take every action possible to get much-needed bills across the finish line this session to save lives and make communities safer across Mississippi.”