JACKSON, MS – FWD.us Mississippi State Director Alesha Judkins issued the following statement in response to a claim made by the Mississippi Department of Corrections that the state’s prison population has hit a two-year low:
“The Mississippi Department of Corrections’ claim that our state’s prison population has hit a two-year low is a misleading account of what is actually happening. Any decrease in prison population is likely attributed to ongoing general mismanagement and interruption of process, not because the Department made the smart decision to release people who should be home with their families instead of incarcerated. The reality is, earlier this year, MDOC stopped all prison admissions from county jails for several months in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis resulting in the increase in jail populations, even overcrowding at one jail facility – all due to the halted or delayed transfers. The lower prison population reported by MDOC is most likely due to these factors, rather than meaningful reform that reduces statewide incarceration. Despite widespread calls from public health and public safety experts and from advocates across the political spectrum, the Governor and Department have still taken no action to expedite releases from prison during the pandemic. In fact, the Governor vetoed the only bill passed by the legislature that could have safely reduced the state’s prison population.
“Make no mistake, Mississippi’s prison population remains dangerously high, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars while keeping families apart, without making any of us any safer.
“We can’t afford to be complacent. The tragic recent spate of preventable deaths in prisons across Mississippi has laid bare the immediate need for reforms to release people from behind bars so they can return safely to their families and communities. Lawmakers must act with a sense of urgency and continue to prioritize criminal justice reforms.”