New Brief Details How Mississippi’s High Incarceration Rate Hurts Families & State’s Economy, Highlights Urgent Need for Reforms
JACKSON, MS – Today, FWD.us released “High Cost, Low Return,” a new report highlighting what is driving Mississippi’s highest-in-the-nation imprisonment rate. In fact, Mississippi’s prison population has grown a staggering 396% since 1980. The new report shows that while Mississippi has passed reforms to safely reduce the state’s dangerously high prison population, their limited scope and incomplete implementation means Mississippi’s prison population continues to increase. Mississippians today are now more likely to be in prison than residents of any other state in the country, and Mississippi’s jail incarceration rate is more than double the national average.
“Mississippi’s high imprisonment rate does not make us safer. Instead, it creates a burden on families, communities, and our state’s economy without improving public safety,” said Alesha Judkins, Mississippi State Director at FWD.us.
Key Findings from the “High Cost, Low Return” Data:
- After reaching the lowest prison population in 20 years following the expansion of parole in 2021, between January and October 2022, Mississippi’s prison population grew by more than 2,000 people due to a dramatic reduction in the use of parole release.
- Prison sentences for drug possession are 34 percent longer – or 15 months longer – in Mississippi than the national average.
- People convicted of drug offenses make up 22 percent of the state’s prison population, 37 percent of the probation population, and 41 percent of the parole population.
- Additionally, people held in local county jails across Mississippi spend nearly half a year incarcerated on average, six times longer than the national average of 28 days and without making Mississippi any safer.
“Mississippi can reverse this troubling increase in the prison population and follow the example of other states like Oklahoma and Texas that have seen a sustained decline in their crime rates and the prison population,” Judkins continued. “But in order to do this, Mississippi must fully implement past reforms and advance more commonsense reforms like changing the state’s harsh habitual laws and defelonizing simple drug possession,” she added.