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We All Pay: Mississippi’s Harmful Habitual Laws

The Hollins Family

We All Pay: Mississippi’s Harmful Habitual Laws

The Hollins Family

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“He gets 60 years, and I’ll be 90 years old. I might not even be here. His whole family could possibly be gone when he gets out of jail.”

In 2010 Larry’s brother Gregory was sentenced to 60 years in prison for a drug crime. Prosecutors were able to multiply his sentence by decades because of prior convictions from 15 years earlier.

“His whole family could possibly be gone when he gets out of jail.”
- Larry (Gregory's Brother)

It’s a huge burden to bear for Gregory’s brother Larry, his mother Diann, and his children. But these extreme habitual laws affect many families in Mississippi — and disproportionately impact Black men. Black men make up 13 percent of Mississippi’s population, yet account for over 75 percent of those sentenced to 20+ year habitual enhancement sentences.

Long prison sentences have become the norm in Mississippi. First-time drug possession can land you in prison for 20 years. Stealing tools from a garage can result in 25 years behind bars.

“He’s missed a lot of birthdays, holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Especially his kids’ birthdays. I’m 62 years old, working, trying to keep things together, keep things for what his kids need. Do what I gotta do.”

“These laws gave them the tool to give my son 60 years.”
- Diann (Gregory's Mom)

On top of these extreme sentences, people can have extra years, decades, or even life imprisonment added to their sentences if they have previous convictions.

As a result of these harmful laws, Mississippi currently has the third highest imprisonment rate in the country, and there are thousands of people — like Gregory — serving extreme sentences due to the state’s habitual laws.

Habitual penalties have landed Mississippi in an incarceration crisis. And #WeAllPay. Please share the Hollins’s story and learn more at www.FWD.us/WeAllPay.