WASHINGTON, DC – New data shows Mississippi has climbed up the list of the top imprisoning states, moving from number three to the second highest imprisoner in the nation. Mississippi’s incarceration crisis stems from decades of failed policies, including extreme sentencing due in part to the state’s habitual laws, inflexible parole laws and more. And recent and continuing avoidable deaths at Parchman and across the Mississippi prison system further prove that bold criminal justice reform is needed in Mississippi.
“Mississippi’s prison population is on the rise again, overtaking Oklahoma as the second highest imprisoner in the country,” said Zoë Towns, Senior Criminal Justice Reform Director at FWD.us. “Mississippi lawmakers from both parties have come together in the past on criminal justice reform. Now more than ever, lawmakers need to work again to pursue impactful reforms aimed at safely reducing the state’s prison population, ending extreme sentencing, and restoring incentives and hope inside prisons.”
The data shows Mississippi’s imprisonment rate (652 people in prison per 100,000 population) has surpassed Oklahoma’s (625 per 100,000 population), pushing Mississippi into the #2 spot in the country. Louisiana still has the nation’s highest imprisonment rate (675 per 100,000). Both Oklahoma and Louisiana have advanced significant sentencing, parole, and commutation reforms in recent years and continue to push for more. If Louisiana continues on its reform trajectory, Mississippi is primed for the #1 spot.
Lawmakers have introduced a package of bills, including bills focused on expanding parole and limiting Mississippi’s harmful habitual laws, to bring forth meaningful reform to the state’s criminal justice system.
A bipartisan group of faith leaders, advocates, civil rights leaders , and conservative organizations are all calling for substantial changes to Mississippi’s criminal justice system. We urge Mississippi legislators to take a hard look at the outdated and costly sentencing and parole laws driving the growth in Mississippi prisons and to push for meaningful reform.
Read the full data memo here.