JACKSON, MS – At the 2018 Mississippi Summit on Criminal Justice Reform today, elected leaders, law enforcement and corrections officials, and community advocates joined together to discuss Mississippi’s criminal justice system, and how to reduce its incarcerated population, keep communities safe, keep families together, and make better use of taxpayer dollars.

Governor Phil Bryant opened the Summit with keynote remarks, and addressed Mississippi’s recent reform efforts and urged further bipartisan work. “The strong criminal justice and corrections reforms that Mississippi has implemented since 2014 have had important effects, but we know we have more work to do. I am excited to be among today’s group of leaders to continue this vital work,” said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. “I have also been honored to work with President Trump on the First Step Act, which will bring much needed reform to our federal correctional system.”

The Summit’s programming will continue throughout the day, discussing the far-reaching impacts the criminal justice system has on families, the economy, and public safety in Mississippi communities. Later today, Mississippian Demario Davis – a Players Coalition Board Member and linebacker for the New Orleans Saints – will address the Summit on the need for reform in his home state of Mississippi. Matt Schlapp, Chairman of the American Conservative Union, and Van Jones, President and Co-founder of #cut50, will share their visions for reform in a bipartisan conversation. Additional panelists and speakers will also address the Summit on different policy reforms including reforms to drug sentencing, mandatory minimums, probation and parole supervision, and pretrial detention

The 2018 Mississippi Summit on Criminal Justice Reform is happening at a critical time. Mississippi has long been one of the nation’s top incarcerating states, and currently has the third highest imprisonment rate. Despite this record, Mississippi has made great strides in recent years, including a major reform effort in 2014. Now that the impacts of the 2014 reforms have taken effect, the state has new opportunities to build on its recent success – further reducing its incarcerated population while keeping communities safe, keeping families together, and making better use of taxpayer dollars.

Mississippians strongly support ambitious reforms to the state’s criminal justice system. Four out of five registered voters, including large majorities across the political spectrum, believe it is important to reduce the number of people behind bars in Mississippi. With the 2019 legislative session fast approaching, lawmakers have a clear mandate to enact commonsense criminal justice reform policies that will safely reduce incarceration, keep more Mississippi families together, and save taxpayer dollars.

The Summit is hosted by the Mississippi Reentry Council and sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, American Conservative Union Foundation, FAMM, FWD.us, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

To learn more about today’s Summit and see a full list of participants, visit MSSummitCJR.com.

Quotes from key participants in today’s 2018 Mississippi Summit on Criminal Justice Reform are below:

Matt Schlapp, Chairman of the American Conservative Union: “Conservatives are skeptical of unrestrained government, and that skepticism applies as much to wasteful spending programs as it does our criminal justice system. We over-criminalize and over incarcerate. We spend too much but get too little in terms of public safety. And we unnecessarily break up families and destroy human potential. In Washington, we are pushing hard to see President Trump’s First Step Act get enacted to improve our federal system. And we have seen Mississippi play a leading role in state criminal justice reform. But there’s always more work to be done to make our communities safer and our justice system more effective. The American Conservative Union stands with Gov. Bryant in taking that next step.”

Van Jones, President and Co-Founder of #cut50: “Mississippi’s current system is hurting communities and families, particularly those of color – but the state should be proud of meaningful recent actions it has taken to reduce its prison population while making its neighborhoods safer. Bipartisan efforts like today’s Summit are critical to helping heal the millions of American families that have been cruelly separated by our nation’s broken and outdated justice system.”