View Full Version : Mississippi lawmakers looking at early release proposals

05-12-2004, 08:28 PM
Posted on Wed, May. 12, 2004

Mississippi lawmakers looking at early release proposals

Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. - A new report says 8.9 percent of Mississippi's total prison population is serving a life sentence, and experts say the figure is likely to increase.

Nationally, the number of prisoners serving life sentences has increased 83 percent in the past 10 years as tough-on-crime initiatives have led to harsher penalties, according to the study released this week by The Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group that promotes alternatives to prison.

The report said the increases are not the result of more crime, since violent crime fell significantly during the period covered by the study. Rather, longer mandatory sentences and more restrictive parole and commutation policies are most responsible, the report said.

In Mississippi, 2,003 inmates - including 285 who are not eligible for parole - are serving life sentences.

Ryan King, research associate for The Sentencing Project, said Wednesday the growing number of inmates serving life sentences is going to create economic problems for Mississippi and other states. He said the average lifetime cost of housing an inmate is $1 million.

"As the costs go up, the numbers go up and the average age of the person in prison increases. You've got an older prison population, and the inherent health care costs," King said.

Mississippi's lawmakers are scrambling for ways to stymie prison population growth.

"The state of Mississippi, without increasing taxes, can no longer afford to incarcerate nonviolent offenders for the amount of time they are receiving," said House Corrections Chairman Bennett Malone, D-Carthage.

"It's going to be very pressing upon the Legislature to look at truth-in-sentencing," he said.

Mississippi's truth-in-sentencing law requires most inmates to serve 85 percent of their sentence before they're considered for parole.

Malone and Senate Corrections Chairman Robert "Bunky" Huggins, R-Greenwood, said this summer they'll review some of the state's sentencing laws.

In the just-ended 2004 session, lawmakers passed a bill that will allow some nonviolent inmates to work time off their sentences. Malone said lawmakers may take another look at amending the law to include drug offenders, depending on the crime committed.

"If it's a big time drug dealer, we're not going to look at him," Malone said. "Violent offenders, we're not going to even look at. They're going to stay there and do there time and we're going to make it just as rough on them as we can."

Lawmakers also may look at the state's drug possession law.

Before July 1998, a person charged with simple possession of cocaine could get a maximum three-year sentence. Currently, the maximum sentence for the same charge escalates depending on the amount of the drug.

For instance, a person convicted of possessing 2 to 10 grams of cocaine could get four to 16 years in prison, while a conviction for possessing more than 30 grams is 10 to 30 years.

Charlie Wood, an assistant district attorney in Harrison County, said most of the drug offenses his office prosecutes are less than 2 ounces.

"Typically, a crack cocaine user is going to have a small amount of cocaine on him - less than a gram," Wood said. "Addicts don't carry that stuff around with them. They smoke it if they've got it."

Wood said the focus should be on treating drug offenders for their addiction.

07-13-2004, 08:36 PM
They really should consider changing some S*** around! It's a shame that my Hero was given three years for the sale of marijuna. They did give him probation However he violated it by not going to see his probation officer. The P.O. issued a warrant for his arrest. The judge ssentenced him to three years, which ws reduced because of the 85% mess. I hate the justice system because it does not make much sense. A rappist, murderer, and armed robbers are elgible for parole but someone that has a drug charge is not. What a shame!!!

07-14-2004, 05:30 PM
If he has 85% he will be eligible for parole when he does his 85%. If he is put in the SHU for anything he will do the whole 100%. Barb

07-14-2004, 08:33 PM
Dear Barb,

Unfortunately in the state of Mississippi a drug charge is considered a violent offense. He is not elgible for parole. It is very strange because most offenders do far worse but they are elgible for parole.

:confused: I just cannot understand!!

07-15-2004, 05:43 AM
"If it's a big time drug dealer, we're not going to look at him," Malone said. "Violent offenders, we're not going to even look at. They're going to stay there and do there time and we're going to make it just as rough on them as we can."

07-15-2004, 11:04 AM
I am sorry I misunderstood I thought you said he was only going to do 85% and in California that is the point when they may get to parole. I didn't know there is no after prison parole where you are. Barb

07-15-2004, 10:14 PM
In Mississippi, any drug conviction other than possession is considered as a violent crime. In rare instances, they will make the time manditory. That really all depends on the judge.

Judges are also the only ones who can give a parole date. If they do not give one then they will have to serve 85% of the total time given. They will not be given parole but an early release date that is the calculated by the 85%. If he gets into any trouble he can loose the eligibility for early release.

Actual parole is a very scarce thing in Mississippi. Most judges do not give a parole date, and even when they do...that does not guarantee that he will be released on that date.

Also I would like to add that the other violent crimes you mentioned rarely if ever get a parole date. I do agree that it is odd at the very least to classify a drug charge as a violent offense but you can thank your lawmakers for that and remember that your voice does matter. Vote!!

Oh and by the way, welcome to PTO. I hope to see you around more often. Tell everyone you know in your situation about us. We really need to help this forum grow. The more knowledge we have, the bigger difference we can make. I know that the whole situation is very frustrating for everyone. Alot of the members here do have loved ones in on violent offenses such as those you mentioned. Regardless of the crime, we are all in the same boat and we are here to offer each other support and give it as needed.

07-16-2004, 01:14 AM
Dear Amy,

I do agree with your statement. It was not meant to sound harsh to those who are going through having their loved ones incarcerated no matter what the reason. i sympothize with all. I have a brother who is in an Il. prison charged with 1st degree murder. He was sentenced to thirty years but he only has to do fifteen, eight of them he has done already. Please believe me when I say that my heart is weighed heavily for anyone going through this. However, some crimes such as drug charges should not be as harsh.

07-16-2004, 01:22 AM

My sentiments exactly!!!!! Whenever they pass laws to reduce time, our men never seem to qualify. WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THAT?

07-16-2004, 01:49 AM
I understand your frustration. I am in a situation too that they never seem to address. None of the new laws ever benifit my husband either.

By the way...I am sorry to hear about your brother. It always saddens me to hear of someone having to do so much time. The chances of making it just seem weakened more with time. Technology advances to quickly and they are given no real training. My thoughts will be with him. Hopefully he will let someone work with him and help him when he comes home.

07-24-2004, 07:46 PM
Dear Amy,

My Brother has received many awards since being in the prison system. Since spending those years in the pen, he has a college diploma in Computer Programing. He is now taking college courses in Real Estate.

My brother owns a small clothing store that my parents are running until he comes home. He is a real go getter. Despite his action (murder) in the past, we are very proud of him. "We are FAMILY."

Thank you for your concern. It really makes you feel good to know that someone out there cares.

GOD BLESS you and your husband,

07-25-2004, 10:00 AM
Jacksonchiniti... it seems as though they are messing all over the violent offenders like they just dont have a chance of getting out early at all!!! My mans time was moved up buy like three months but i am not sure if it was because of the 30 for 30 law....
Amy.... you said vote I dont think i can vote for the laws down there can I? if i can let me know and i will be all up on it but I live in New Orleans and unless it is a National issue I am unsure about being able to vote. Girl you have alot of new people on here that is good!!!! now all I have to do is remember to post in this thread and not as much in the H&B....

07-25-2004, 02:23 PM
Amy.... you said vote I dont think i can vote for the laws down there can I? if i can let me know and i will be all up on it but I live in New Orleans and unless it is a National issue I am unsure about being able to vote.
It makes no difference where you live. We have to make our voice heard. Voting is the only way to do that.

Whether you are in Mississippi, Tennessee, New York, Georgia, where ever, state law makers tend to follow what other states do. If we can get the right people any state, it has the possiblility to make a difference everywhere. We have to let them know that not everyone thinks it is a good idea to lock people up and leave them there.