As society begins to focus more of its online attention on criminal justice and the need for reform, it is important to seek tangible solutions that prevent reoccurring patterns of injustice.
In Mississippi, the criminal justice system is in need of major changes. As a reentry program serving those who have experienced incarceration in Mississippi, we would like to highlight two progressive possibilities for our criminal justice system.
PROVIDE JOB TRAINING IN FIELDS THAT ARE IN DEMAND LOCALLY.
Too often, adults in Mississippi are released from incarceration with skills that may be irrelevant to the career fields that are most often hiring in their communities. Jobs and educational programs during incarceration are sometimes limited to trades that benefit the prison industry more than they serve the inmate in reentering the workforce. By providing job training during prison that is cohesive with up-to-date local hiring trends, Mississippi is likely to reduce recidivism and the unemployment rate simultaneously.
CHANGE HABITUAL SENTENCING POLICIES
Mississippi’s “habitual offender” laws mandate that any person who has been convicted of three felonies and sentenced to at least one year in prison for each receives an “enhanced
sentence.” For many offenders, this means decades in prison and possible life sentences (regardless of whether the prior charges were for violent or non-violent crimes) no matter how
long ago they were accused. Habitual offender laws eliminate opportunities for probation, parole, sentence reductions, or suspensions. By changing the habitual sentencing policies,
Mississippi could reduce its housing cost per inmate and possibly dedicate more funding toward strengthening local reentry initiatives.
Although there are many additional solutions that could benefit Mississippi's criminal justice system, we believe that these two measures could be a helpful first step toward progress.
Sources: CLARION LEDGER