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Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Prison Reform Bill Reactions

Credit: WCBI
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Prison Reform Bill Reactions
Prison Reform Bill Reactions

A pair of bills that supporters say could have reduced overcrowding in state prisons is vetoed by Governor Tate Reeves.

A pair of bills that supporters say could have reduced overcrowding in state prisons is vetoed by governor tate reeves.

Allie martin has reaction from two local sheriffs who say the prison reform bills catered to the offenders and did not have input from law enforcement or crime victims. while the proposals were championed by prison reform advocates, the legislation was strongly opposed by sheriffs and police chiefs statewide, who said it did not adequately address the public's safety, or victims' rights.

"it's a sad thing when you have somebody who has proven, their past record is they don't want to do right, the serve time for a violent crime, they get out , you hope they reform, but they don't and you got to go look at a family member and try and explain how they got out early."

Chickasaw county sheriff james meyers says he has experienced that situation more times than he would like to remember.

It is one of many reasons the sheriff was opposed to recent legislation senate bill 2123 would have allowed people convicted of nonviolent offenses to become eligible for parole when they served 25 percent of their sentence.

Inmates convicted of most violent offenses would be eligible for parole when they served fifty percent of their sentence.

House bill 658 would have allowed up to three felony convictions to be expunged for some nonviolent crimes.

Sheriff meyers believes true prison reform must include sentences that actually punish repeat offenders.

"somebody gets a ten year, or fifteen, twenty year sentence, that's not necessarily what that means, they go down to doc, calculate their time, i've seen ten year sentences where folks get out in eighteen months."

Lee county sheriff jim johnson said criminal justice reform from two years ago was responsible for the early release of gary scott mcdonald.

He is in the lee county jail, charged in the baldwyn murder of coner noel kyle.

Sheriff johnson says mcdonald , a repeat offender with multiple felony convictions, could have seen early release under the proposed legislation.

"this murder he committed, if the 2123 had have passed, it would fell under the limelight, of this individual being convicted and possibly having opportunity to be out after serving fifty percent of his time, that is totally unacceptable, what is this saying to this young lady's family, the community, the community was terrorized for over a week."

Prison reform advocates promise they will be back next legislative session.

Both sheriff johnson and sheriff meyers say they hope law enforcement has a seat at the table.

In tupelo, allie martin, wcbi news sheriff meyers said each criminal case should be looked at on an individual basis, with first time offenders having more opportunities for alternative sentences and other methods of rehabilitation.

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