Criminal Justice Reform

Reforming Our Criminal Justice System

As of July of 2013, Mississippi had over 22,000 people incarcerated in its prisons and corrections facilities. That number places Mississippi 2nd in the nation for highest incarceration rate. We also know, thanks to the report from the 2013 Corrections and Criminal Justice Task Force, that the state's prison population has grown by 17% in the last decade alone. These trends are not just affecting Mississippi, but our nation as a whole. Recent statistics show that 1 in every 100 American adults is incarcerated.

Representative Williams Barnes cares about reducing our prison population through smart, fiscally responsible ways. Ways to do that include: reducing sentences for non-violent offenders, expanding the use of drug courts for citizens struggling with substance abuse, and giving judges alternatives to incarceration during the sentencing process.

Representative Williams Barnes supported House Bill 585, which is now in the State Senate. HB 585 passed the state House last week with bipartisan support. The bill does many of the things discussed in this article. It expands the use of drug courts and gives drug users a second chance. At the same time, the bill is tough on drug dealers who continue to distribute harmful substances into our communities. The bill also allows judges to choose alternatives to incarceration while sentencing offenders. This bill, if it becomes law, would help Mississippi lower its incarceration rate and reduce spending in the corrections budget.



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