"...People can have extra years, decades, or even life imprisonment added to their sentences if they have ever been convicted of crimes in the past."
Mississippi is experiencing an incarceration crisis, driven in large part by its use of long and life sentences. First-time drug possession can land you in prison for 20 years. Stealing tools from a garage can result in 25 years behind bars. On top of these already extreme sentences, people can have extra years, decades, or even life imprisonment added to their sentences if they have ever been convicted of crimes in the past.
These so-called “habitual” penalties can be used at the complete discretion of the prosecutor and applied to any offense, including minor crimes such as shoplifting or drug possession. As a result, Mississippi has the second highest imprisonment rate in the country, driven by thousands of people serving extreme sentences in prisons across the state. Lawmakers are coming back into session, and they have a chance to change these laws that have hurt too many families.