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Criminal Justice Reform: Bill Passes House That Keeps the Bad Ones in Longer

Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

JACKSON, Miss.–Keeping the bad ones in longer and making sure the most ruthless Mississippi criminal can’t be trusted is part of a bill that passed the Mississippi House 105-7 Monday (HB585). The bill also helps veterans who have made mistakes.

The bill must now pass the Senate.

Essentially the bill says that if a person is considered a violent offender that they must serve at least half of their sentence. It also says that if a person is convicted of violent crimes more than once, he or she cannot become a trusty.

The bill also makes drug courts stronger. It gives judges more options when they sentence people who are non-violent drug offenders.

Many counties that use drug courts swear by their success. When a person is sent to drug court instead of prison, they get counseling and must stay off of drugs in order to graduate and not go to jail.

The bill would also create a veterans court for the state, which would operate almost the same way as the drug courts.

“These veterans treatment courts will provide a valuable service to the men and women who have served this country and want to get back on track,” said Gov. Phil Bryant. “They, more than most, deserve this second chance, and I thank Rep. Andy Gipson for including the amendment to establish these courts.”

The bill had support from both Republicans and Democrats. One point where not all agreed was new guidelines for sentencing drug offenders. Under the bill having 30 grams of a drug would make you a trafficker and could get you 10 to 40 years. More than 200 grams could get you 25 to life.

The bill came as the result of a committee on criminal justice that met for months to find the rights and wrongs of the criminal justice system in the state, with the goal to saving Mississippi money as the prison population increases.

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