Miss. corrections rate 2nd highest in nation

One in 38 adults in Mississippi is either behind bars or under correctional supervision, a new study shows.

The Pew Center study released today shows that number has almost tripled from the rate in 1982 when it was one in 105.

Mississippi’s incarceration rate is the second highest in the nation, behind only Louisiana.

The study also found that, despite the fact the majority of offenders are on probation or parole, nearly 90 percent of corrections money is spent on prisons.

“Most states are facing serious budget deficits,” said Susan Urahn, managing director of The Pew Center on the States. “Every single one of them should be making smart investments in community corrections that will help them cut costs and improve outcomes.”

Over the past two decades, state general fund spending on corrections has grown by more than 300 percent, outpacing education, transportation and public assistance. Only Medicaid has grown faster.

Nationally, taxpayers fork over $68 billion a year for corrections.

Experts say get-tough laws adopted in the 1990s are one reason the overall incarceration rate in Mississippi remains the second highest in the nation.

In 1995, the state Legislature passed a “truth in sentencing” law, ordering nearly all those convicted to serve 85 percent of their sentences.

Five years later, the Legislature removed that requirement for first-time, nonviolent offenders, enabling them to qualify for parole after serving a fourth of their sentences. In the last session, lawmakers broadened that eligibility to include any offender who’s never been convicted of a violent crime, drug trafficking or enhanced penalties.

Former Corrections Commissioner Robert Johnson has said Mississippi spends little on inmate vocational programs, despite the rate for repeat offenses severely drops once an inmate learns a trade.

Mississippi needs to do more to take advantage of alternatives to prison, he said. “It’s one-third of the cost of putting them behind bars, but when you talk to legislators about it, they give you dirty, cold looks like you’re soft on crime.”

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One Response to “Miss. corrections rate 2nd highest in nation”

  1. tupelogeek Says:

    >>One in 38 adults in Mississippi is either behind bars or under correctional supervision, a new study shows.<<

    How many of those are tobaco lawyers?

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