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The Bills Just Keep on Coming: Bryant’s Pen Busy With New Laws

JACKSON, Miss.–If you’ve ever been a victim of crime, you know the justice system can take time. With new laws signed Monday by Gov. Phil Bryant, the process may become more efficient and more guilty people could be put away. Katie’s Law, the trooper school and adding more assistant district attorney were all in bills passed in the 2014 legislative session.

One of those new laws is aimed at speeding up prosecutions and getting more convictions. It will add 16 new assistant district attorneys in high-need areas in the state.

“Putting 16 more on board is gonna help a lot,” said Tony Lawrence, district attorney for Greene, George and Jackson counties. “This is the culmination of three year’s work by the Miss. Prosecutors Assoc. We did a study to determine where the real need was across the state, where we needed additional prosecutors. and I’m proud to say that the governor put the money where the need was.”

He said that for you this means the justice system could be quicker.

“The DA’s office is a bottleneck in the criminal justice system. Thirteen of fourteen agencies will feed files through there. So what’s gonna happen is the DA’s will be more efficient, they’ll more more cases. If you’re a victim of crime you should be happy today, because it’s gonna move a lot quicker.”

The governor also signed Katie’s Law, named for Katie Sepich, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered, and whose mom helped push for the law.

It requires DNA collection from violent offenders to match the samples against the database already collected in Mississippi, and the national database.

“Our family knows too well the pain of losing a much-loved child to a violent crime.  And we know that using the powerful science of DNA to its fullest potential not only solves crimes faster, it prevents crimes and  saves lives,” said Jayann Sepich, Katie’s mom. “We are so grateful to Senator Brice Wiggins and Representative Mark Formby for introducing and championing Katie’s Law in Mississippi.  We applaud their courage and the strong support of Gov. Bryant in making DNA the fingerprint of the 21st century in Mississippi.”

According to DNA Saves, started by Sepich, with the advent of DNA taken upon felony arrest, California cleared or aided in the investigation of more than 50 percent of the unsolved cases added to its database between January 2009 and July 1, 2011. DNA Saves also estimates that DNA testing had led to the exoneration of more than 200 wrongfully convicted individuals in the United States.

The trooper school you may have heard about has also been signed into law, and will cost about $6.9 million. It is set to help offset a shortage of more than 100 troopers by funding a new trooper class.

The objective of the administration of the Mississippi Highway Patrol is to begin Cadet Class 61 in November of 2014 with 75 cadets and have several alternates for the first two weeks of the class. The goal is to graduate 60 new troopers in the spring of 2015, according to a news release.

Applications will be available May 1st at the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Headquarters located at 1900 East Woodrow Wilson Blvd., in Jackson, Mississippi and at each of the District Offices of the Highway Patrol (visit DPS website, http://www.dps.state.ms.us/ for the locations of MHP District Offices).  Applicants may also call DPS Human Resources at 601-987-1264, and request an application be mailed to them. The deadline for submission of completed applications is June 16, 2014.

Tuesday Gov. Bryant was expected to sign the teacher pay raise bill, which includes an across the board raise for all public school teachers, K-12, in Mississippi.

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