Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Mississippi Unable to Pay the Piper

Last year Mississippi implemented the country's toughest sentencing bill, requiring all convicts (not just 'serious" or violent" criminals) to serve 85 percent of their sentences. Corrections Commissioner Steve Puckett said that law is causing a serious financial dilemma and needs to be reviewed.

Under the previous sentencing scheme prisoners were eligible for parole after serving only 30 percent of their sentences. Puckett told the House Appropriations Committee he has so many prisoners coming into the system "I don't know where to keep them.'' He said that even an aggressive prison building plan still couldn't keep up with the expanding prison population. Puckett estimated that the number of prisoners in Mississippi will increase 152 percent, from 12,294 to 30,031 by the year 2005.

Rep. Billy McCoy (D) said by the time lawmakers get done paying for prisons "we're not going to have one blasted dime left." He also expressed the dilemma facing lawmakers when he quipped that "it's not politically correct to list the three or four things necessary" to draft a saner sentencing scheme.

"As soon as the legislature becomes aware of the expenses involved," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Charlie Capps (D). "I can't imagine not taking a look at it."

Puckett urged lawmakers to "find a middle of the road philosophy" on the tough sentencing issue. "We are not a very rich state," Puckett said.

Source: Corrections Digest

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login