Mississippi

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Mississippi

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:21 pm

Another good bill making the rounds in the legislature is House Bill 729, which would lift the 85 percent rule for people convicted of selling marijuana or reselling prescription drugs. Those offenders would likewise become eligible for parole after serving 25 percent of their prison time. A Senate committee inserted a clause to make some nonviolent felons convicted before 1995 eligible for parole.

The Bolivar-Commercial wrote:
Longer sentences are justified


By The Bolivar-Commercial
March 24, 2008

While some people have expressed concern about Mississippi lengthening the sentences for criminals who break into homes where people are present, we believe, considering the seriousness of the crime, the longer sentences are justified.

Gov. Haley Barbour signed a bill this week that would increase the penalty for home invasion from a minimum of three years in prison to a minimum of 10 years.

Critics of the bill feel legislation like that will increase the prison population, which is always a costly proposition, but we believe in this case it truly is better to be safe than sorry.

We have only to look to what happened Wednesday morning in Shelby County, Tenn., to understand the need for tougher sentences.

Dennis Dunning, 44, was transported to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis in extremely critical condition after he was shot several times in the chest and face.

Four intruders had kicked in the back door of the house about 8 a.m., then herded three adult women, a 17-year-old girl and a 6-year-old girl into the back bedroom of the house and tied them up. They were uninjured.

However, Dunning wasn't so fortunate.

When he arrived about 15 minutes later, the suspects shot him during an altercation at the front door, according to authorities. Dunning staggered next door and collapsed on the lawn.

Home invasions are indeed serious stuff, and they need to be dealt with accordingly.

Likewise prison crowding is serious stuff in Mississippi. Even so, the state does have ways to ease the overpopulation at our prisons.

For example, Senate Bill 2136 would make about 7,000 inmates eligible to appear before the state Parole Board. Nonviolent offenders, who were convicted of possessing small amounts of drugs, would be eligible for parole under the bill's provisions. Mississippi's current "truth-in-sentencing laws" require such inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being considered for parole.

Another good bill making the rounds in the legislature is House Bill 729, which would lift the 85 percent rule for people convicted of selling marijuana or reselling prescription drugs. Those offenders would likewise become eligible for parole after serving 25 percent of their prison time. A Senate committee inserted a clause to make some nonviolent felons convicted before 1995 eligible for parole.

Such bills show that mercy can be the better part of wisdom - for prisoners and taxpayers as well - especially in light of the prison population explosion that has mushroomed since the "truth-in-sentencing" law went into effect.

The average annual expenditure for educating a child in Mississippi is $8,298. On the other hand, the average cost of housing a prisoner in Mississippi during a year comes to $14,472.25.

We see nothing wrong with increasing the sentence for criminals who break into people's homes, or in requiring other violent prisoners to serve 85 percent of their sentences. It keeps some pretty dangerous people off the streets for a long time.

But to require that of a nonviolent offender must serve 85 percent of his sentence is like requiring "the pound of flesh nearest the heart" from someone whose debt to society is relatively small.

If those two bills become law, they will more mitigate the costs of keeping the really bad guys under lock and key for the next decade.

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