Mississippi has the third-highest imprisonment rates in the country. Indeed, Mississippi holds more people in prison per capita than all but two other states. Mass incarceration, long sentences, habitual penalties and cash bail systems are all failed public safety strategies.

These approaches to criminal justice place paralyzing burdens on communities and families suffering negative implications resulting from the absence of incarcerated citizens.

Additionally, when considering the cost to benefit of mass incarceration, the cost is unjustifiable. Mississippi tax payers spend more than $300 million on the corrections system every year.

Joining forces with other advocacy organizations, ACLU of Mississippi will advocate for and support legislation aimed at safely and strategically reducing the state’s dangerously high prison population by:

1. Reforming the statewide system of excessive and unconstitutional pre-trial detention;

2. Limiting mandatory life sentences for less serious offenses; and

3. Creating greater parole opportunities;

The need to reduce the prison population in Mississippi has been heightened by COVID-19. As of October 2020, the Mississippi Department of Corrections confirmed at least 805 positive COVID-19 cases in prisons across the state, with outbreaks in at least 23 prisons.

This is no surprise as prisons are extremely unsafe places during this pandemic. It is difficult, indeed almost impossible, to employ the CDC and Mississippi State Department of Health’s guidelines of social distancing and frequent hand washing and sanitizing in these over-populated environments.