JACKSON, MS – FWD.us Policy Manager Laura Bennett issued the following statement on “The Criminal Justice Reform Act” (HB 1352):
“The amended version of the Criminal Justice Reform Act that passed the Senate floor includes several reforms that will help Mississippians with criminal convictions find and maintain work, including a ban on driver’s license suspension for drug convictions and expanded eligibility for expungement. These changes represent important progress.
“However, last minute changes to the reentry reforms leave loopholes that will make it difficult for low-income Mississippians to qualify. Mississippians of all income levels should benefit from these important reforms. We urge the Conference Committee to strengthen HB 1352 to close these gaps.
“With necessary fixes, these reentry reforms will help thousands of Mississippians rebuild their lives and contribute to their communities in the wake of a criminal conviction, but the bill does not address Mississippi’s incarceration crisis. The bill does not include any sentencing reforms and, as a result, HB 1352 will not have any impact on Mississippi’s prison population or take on the state’s status as the 3rd highest incarcerating state. More reform is needed and we are hopeful that meaningful sentencing and pretrial reforms will be pursued administratively by the Governor and prioritized in future legislative sessions.”
FWD.us is also releasing a policy impact assessment of HB1352, which can be found here. If you would like more information on this legislation, or the broader impact of criminal justice reforms being considered by the legislature, Laura Bennett is available for additional public comment.