2019 Priority Legislation

CASH BAIL REFORM: HB 949 & HB 1081 - REFERRED TO HOUSE JUD B.

Cash bail is one of the most corrupt and broken parts of the justice system. It lets the size of a person’s wallet determine whether a person – who has been accused, but not convicted of a crime – can return home or stay locked up in jail while awaiting their day in court. Mississippi’s cash bail system punishes those who are too poor to pay. Legislation that we are advocating for ensures that bail is not used as a penalty, and is the last resort for ensuring court appearance. The amendments will help save precious taxpayer dollars while also providing the autonomy judges need to reasonably determine the most effective way to ensure the accused’s return to court.

Status: Died in committee.

Download Our Priority Bill One-Pagers Below

POLICIES FOR BODY-WORN CAMERAS BY LAW ENFORCEMENT: HB 1005 - REFERRED TO HOUSE JUD B. SB 2371 - REFERRED TO SENATE JUD A.

Body cameras have the potential to serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers. They are a win-win, helping to protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time guarding against false accusations of abuse. Without a comprehensive policy in place that includes provisions for citizens’ privacy, transparency, and accountability, body cameras can serve as another police surveillance tool. We are advocating for legislation that ensures that body cameras will serve to protect the public, without becoming another system for routine surveillance. While our legislation will not mandate that all Mississippi law enforcement officers be equipped with body cameras, it will ensure sure that those that are equipped will do so within a framework of strong policies.

Status: Died in committee.

WRITTEN CONSENT TO SEARCH VEHICLES AND POLICIES FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT BODY CAMERAS: HB 992 - Referred to House Jud B.

Police search thousands of cars each year at Mississippi traffic stops, usually looking for guns or drugs, through a simple request for a driver to consent. Drivers often don’t know that they can say no, or may feel coerced and isolated by the side of the road. However, law enforcement does not need permission to search a car if there is evidence of reasonable suspicion of a crime.  The ACLU of Mississippi is advocating for legislation to ensure that drivers understand their constitutional right to say no to a request to search by requiring written consent with a simple disclosure. This will cover instances when an officer doesn’t have a warrant, is not making an arrest, or does not have probable cause. Written consent improves policing as well as protects public safety and civil liberties. 

Status: Died in committee.


Here are the Criminal Justice Reform bills we're tracking this legislative session:

SUPPORT

HB 5 - Domestic abuse court program.
 
A domestic abuse court program will help to hold offenders accountable, increase victim safety, provide greater judicial monitoring, and coordinate information to provide effective interaction and use the resources among the courts. 
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 9 - Department of Corrections; provide certain educational programs for adult offenders.
 
This bill will allow MDOC to administer educational programs while adult offenders are incarcerated. Creating educational programs helps to reduce the risk of recidivism, which helps to reduce the state's reliance on incarceration.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 52 - Fees assessed to youth involved in juvenile justice system, certain; remove
 
This bill will remove the requirement of fees that are given to the youth and their parents once they enter the juvenile justice system. We support this bill because the inability to pay fines and fees should not harm families or put that at risk of being incarcerated.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 55 - Case plans for inmates who committed violent offenses; require certain programs be placed within
 
This bill will mandate the Department of Corrections (MDOC) complete a case plan for all inmates that included certain rehabilitative programs. MDOC must be held accountable for ensuring inmates are being rehabilitated in order to break the incarceration cycle and reduce risk for recidivism.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 56 - Conjugal visits; require Department of Corrections to provide for married inmates.
 
This bill will allow inmates who are married to receive conjugal visits from their spouse provided by the Department of Corrections.  
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 57 - Department of Corrections; require implantation of an Extended Family Visitation Program for eligible offenders. 
 
This bill will implement an extended family visitation program in state prisons. Prisoners with families and children deserve the right to stay in contact with them. Inmates who receive visits from family while incarcerated are less likely to recommit crimes once released.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 111 - Income tax; authorize a credit for taxpayers that employ persons convicted of certain violent crimes. 
 
This bill encouraged employers to hire certain supervised offenders, which provides for formerly incarcerated individuals to make a living and have a quality of life. Providing gainful employment to formerly incarcerated individuals helps reduce the risk of recidivism, and as a result reduces the number of incarcerated persons.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 160 - An act to amend section 97-1-7, Mississippi code of 1972, to revise penalties for attempted capital offenses; and for related purposes.
 
This act removes the death penalty as an option for attempted capitol offenses. The state of Mississippi should never execute anyone.   
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
 
HB 184 - Expunction; revise which offenses are eligible.
 
This bill will allow for the expungement of minor traffic offenses for young adults. Additionally, it will expanded the felonies that qualify for expungement.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 192 - An act to create a task force to address the disparity of African-American males in the judicial system; to specify the duties of the task force; to provide for the membership of the task force; and for related purposes.
 
This bill will create a task force to address the shameful fact that Black people in Mississippi, as in other states, are arrested and incarcerated at a higher rate than white people and at a disproportionate rate respective to the Black population of Mississippi. The Magnolia state incarcerates Black people 3.5 times more than the rate of white people. African Americans account for 37% of the state’s population, but 65% of its prisoners. 
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
 
HB 193 - An act to create the "Mississippi Comprehensive Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act"; to require the department of human services and the department of health to develop certain programs and strategies promoting pregnancy prevention and providing information on the consequences of unprotected, uninformed and underage sexual activity; to amend section 41-79-5, Mississippi code of 1972, in conformity with the provisions of this act; and for related purposes
 
Mississippi has the fourth highest teen birth rate in the nation. The ACLU of MS supports legislation, which invest in the reproduction healthcare, reduces the incidences of disease, and which will fund medically accurate and evidence based programs that meet the needs of MS young people so they can make healthy individual decisions.  
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 198 -  Nonviolent offenders; authorize reduction of sentences for passage of end-of-course subject area tests by the offenders.
 
Nonviolent offenders deserve the opportunity to reduce their sentence by meeting certain criteria, such as passing subject area tests. This would grant nonviolent offenders who no longer pose a threat to society a chance to be released from prison.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 223 - Special Prosecutor; create procedure when DA is absent or unable to perform his or her duties. 
 
This legislation would have required the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle cases when the district attorney is absent or unable to perform his/her duties. This legislation helps to minimize bias, and increase credibility of the criminal justice system.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 226 - Officer-involved death; require investigation by MBI and appointment of special prosecutor. 
 
The appointment of a special prosecutor to handle cases of police involved shootings minimizes bias and increases the legitimacy of the criminal justice system.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 227 - Expungement; authorize for all nonviolent crimes after five years. 
 
Second chances are an indispensable piece of successful reentry. This bill will increase access to second chances by making more people eligible to expunge prior offenses from their record.
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 245 - Interpretation language assistance services; provide for certain youth at juvenile detention centers. 
 
This legislation will ensure proper services are received by youth who have limited English speaking or non-English speaking abilities or who are deaf or hard of hearing at juvenile detention centers. 
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
HB 310 - Driver’s license; authorize issuance of hardship license to persons who have their licenses suspended as a result of being out of compliance with order for support.

 

The criminalization of poverty perpetuates poverty, and counterproductive license suspensions are a clear example. This bill will allow hardship waivers for those who cannot afford to make child support payments so that they can get to and from work. Courts should look at a person’s ability to pay child support and the impact suspension of a driver’s licenses would have on the person’s ability to pay. 

Status: Died in committee.
 

HB 311 - Expungement; revise list of felonies that may be authorized for.

Second chances are an indispensable piece of successful reentry. This bill will increase access to second chances by making more people eligible for expungement of certain felonies from their record.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 315 - Sexual harassment; create a state cause of action.

Sexual harassment is a civil rights violation, and the culture of sexual harassment must be dismantled. This bill will stop gender based violence and harassment in the workplace, create meaningful accountability which should include civil rights remedies that shift the focus far punishing the offender to provide redress for the victim.   

Status: Died in committee.

HB 334 - Mental health courts; authorize to be established throughout the state.

This bill will facilitate the expansion of mental health courts in Mississippi. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 350 - DOC; authorize awarding of certain participation credits for offenders in technical violations centers.

This legislation will create violation centers that will include substance abuse services shown to reduce recidivism, and employment preparation through educational programs, training, and behavioral programs.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 404 - Employment application form; prohibit criminal background information from being asked on. 

This bill will prevent job discrimination by prohibiting criminal background history when filling out a job application, thereby providing a fair chance at hiring for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 416 - Inmates convicted of capitol offenses; provide parole eligibility after certain requirements are met. 

Opening the door for individuals convicted of capital offenses to be released on parole will help provide more rehabilitation opportunities, versus incarcerating individuals indefinitely.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 480 - Rights of youth taken into custody for delinquent act, certain; require legal counsel be consulted before waiver of certain rights may occur. 

The practice of allowing youth to waive their right to counsel has created a system where youth rights don't exist. Youth often don't fully understand the consequences of their waiver of counsel. This bill will ensure that youth have access to counsel prior to waiving their rights.

Status: Died on calendar.

HB 481 - An act to create The Consumer Arrest Record Equity (CARE) Act, which provides a mechanism for a person to have his or her arrest record sealed under certain circumstances if a conviction did not occur as a result of the arrest.

Involvement in the criminal justice system can wreak havoc on a person's life, even if they weren't convicted of a crime. This bill would have reduced the collateral consequences that come with being arrested for a crime.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 558 - Mandatory minimum sentences for crimes committed by offenders; revise which offenders are eligible for. 

Extreme sentencing laws keep people in prisons for far too long. Lowering mandatory minimums is smart justice and helps to reduce mass incarceration in Mississippi.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 570 - Bail; provide imposition of by courts under certain circumstances whether no other condition ensure defendant’s appearance. 

This legislation would have helped return our pretrial system to the way it should be -- one in which money bail is a last resort to ensure court appearance. Pretrial liberty should be the rule, not the exception that is reserved for people with wealth. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 616 - State inmates eligible for release; require notification of certain terms and conditions of release be given to.

This amendment will require the Department of Corrections to notify the inmate if they are eligible for parole, post-release supervision, or probation. Receiving this information on the front-end will help to reduce the likelihood of recidivism. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 620 - Nonadjudication and pretrial intervention; authorize completion of workforce training as a condition that the court may impose. 

 

This amendment will allow offenders to complete a workforce training at a community college or workforce development center as a form of rehabilitation instead of being penalized with a crime. It will be paid for through the Mississippi Department of Corrections. We support this bill because it will decrease the mass incarceration rate by providing rehabilitation opportunities. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 662 - Child support; suspend requirement for payment while payor is incarcerated.

 

This amendment will suspend requirement payments for inmates who are incarcerated. No one should be penalized for not being able to pay child support while incarcerated because they cannot seek employment. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 684 - Juvenile offenders convicted of murder; revise sentencing options for.

This bill creates alternative sentencing for juveniles who would otherwise be sentences to life in prison. Children who are sentenced as adults should be entitled to special protection and treatment.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 825 - The Clean Slate Act; create to authorize certain people to petition the court to have arrest and conviction records sealed. 

This bill would have reduced the collateral consequences that come with involved with the criminal justice system.

Status: Died in committee.
 

HB 881 - Opioid Crisis Intervention Act; create. 

This bill would have helped to reduce the prison population by providing treatment to those who are addicted instead of adding to the prison population, which is an outdated approach to drug abuse.

Status: Died on the Calendar

HB 1067Youth court; revise who may attend hearings and require to send certain monthly cumulative data to Administrative Office of Courts.

This bill will create transparency in youth court while protecting confidentiality.

Status: Referred to Senate Jud A.

HB 1352Criminal Justice Reform Act; create.

This comprehensive bill will help to reduce the state's mass incarceration crisis. Its benefits include: reorganizes drug courts to cover matters like mental health courts under the umbrella of "intervention" courts, expands advisory committee, data collection, clinical assessments, allows fee waiver, prevents driver's license suspensions for non-driving offenses, expands expungement of records, lifts automatic bans on occupational licenses, and sets up a "recidivism reduction" fund from savings in prison reduction for use in reentry programs.

Status: Signed by Governor.

SB 2328Forensic Mental Health Act of 2019; create.

This bill will bring Mississippi law into compliance with federal constitution, by expediting mental evaluations in criminal cases and getting people with severe mental illness out of jail and into the civil commitment system.

Status: Sent to House Jud B Committee.

SB 2490 - MDOC supervised release; prohibit incarceration for minor violations of & reduce maximum term for certain forms of.

Limiting incarceration for minor violations is a step toward reducing the state's addiction to prison.

Status: Died in committee.

SB 2781Mississippi Fresh Start Act; create to require the revision of licensing restrictions based on criminal records.

This bill would remove any automatic bars to occupational licenses due to prior felony conviction.

Status: Passed House Jud A Committee.

SB 2791 - Re-entry and employability; implement mechanisms to provide. 

This bill would have improved public safety while also reducing incaceration rates, containing evidence-based, comprehensive solutions that also support reentry. 

Status: Died on calendar.


Oppose

HB 10 - School attendance officers; require to visit home of certain children within 72 hours of unexcused absence. 

This legislation will employ school attendance officers determined by the Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement to enforce the provision of the Mississippi Compulsory School Attendance. Truancy functions as punitive mechanism that disproportionately affects children of color and children with disabilities. This bill will result in parents being imprisoned and therefore families separated. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 11 - Compulsory school attendance; require youth court petition after third unlawful absence and authorize community service for violations.

Our Position: School attendance officers serve a role in school that is distinct from law enforcement. This bill will lead to a violation of many students’ Fourth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. School administrators should address a student absence from school. Student issues should be dealt with appropriate social service responses not criminalized. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 20 - Conjugal visits; prohibit for offenders committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections.

Conjugal visits, as with any visitation, help prisoners maintain their humanity while incarcerated. Therefore, such visits help in the transition to contributing positively to society once they are released. No legislative act should deny that opportunity for true rehabilitation.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 21 - Utility worker; killing of shall be capital murder. 

This bill will classify the killing of a utility worker as capital murder. Not only is it unnecessary, but there is no evidence that utility workers are violently targeted.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 100 - Children’s Advocacy Centers Fund; provide an additional assessment on drug/alcohol violations for foster care programs. 

This legislative will provide an additional criminal assessment on drug and alcohol misdemeanors and felonies to be used for foster children programs. There is no nexus connection between drug and alcohol and the foster program. This bill seeks to further criminalize drug misuse instead to provide treatment. 

Status: Died on calendar.

HB 121 - HIV crimes; increase penalties for intentional exposure to blood or seminal fluid. 

Having HIV is not a crime. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 221, HB 271, SB 2420 -  Indecent assault; create crime of. 

Mississippi holds the third highest incarceration rate in the nation. Creating new crimes perpetuates the state’s addiction to prison. 

Status: House bills died in committee. Senate bill referred to House Jud B Committee.

HB 225 - Body-worn cameras; require cities and counties to provide to police officers and deputy sheriffs.

While the ACLU of MS believes that body-worn cameras can be a win-win for police and the communities they serve, they must be deployed alongside policies that include provisions for citizens’ privacy, transparency, and accountability. Without the proper policies in place, body-worn cameras can become a surveillance tool.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 348 - Cell phones and other contraband found in correctional facilities; provide certain penalties for.
 
This bill would enhance sentence for guard introducing contraband to make sentence up to 30 years day for day. Sentencing enhancements perpetuate the state's addiction to prison.
 
Status: Referred to Senate Corrections.
 
HB 581 - Mississippi Terroristic Threats Law; create.
 

A penalty for disturbance of a school session or meeting already exists. Creating a new crime is unnecessary and creates a slippery slope likely to lead to costly litigation protecting a fundamental right to free speech. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 685 - The Mississippi Street Gang Act; make various revisions.
 

This legislation will unnecessarily amend the current Mississippi Street Gang Act. It will make membership in a gang a felony with no eligibility for parole, regardless if said member had not committed any crimes that may be attributed to that particular gang. We oppose legislation that can arbitrarily define what constitutes a “gang”, under the guise of creating a safe society. In addition, this legislation will disproportionately impact communities of color by making them more susceptible to being unfairly and unnecessarily harassed and targeted by law enforcement. It will further result in increases prison population. 

Status: Died in committee.

HB 722 - Bail schedule for courts; create.

 

Bail schedules take away an individual's assessment of ability to pay. This bill would perpetuatee wealth-based incarceration.

Status: Died in committee.

HB 871 - Parole to a detainer; codify and prescribe process for use of. 

This bill would have required sheriffs to check and make sure jail inmates aren't breaking parole conditions before releasing them.

Status: Died on calendar.

SB 2141 - Terroristic threat; create offense of. 
 
This bill would create a new crime of "terroristic threat" with an automatic 10-year sentence. Creating a new crime is unnecessary and creates a slippery slope likely to lead to costly litigation protecting a fundamental right to free speech. This bill is also unnecessary as laws already on the books address hurtful speech. Protecting crude and upsetting speech is an essential component of democracy. 
 
Status: Signed by Governor.
 
SB 2188 - DUI; eliminate nonadjudication option. 
 
This bill would have increased the penalty for DUI offenses. Alcohol abuse should not be used as a means to criminalize offenders. 
 
Status: Died in committee.
 
SB 2420 - Indecent assault; create the crime of.
 
Creating new crimes takes Mississippi a step back from a smart justice approach that reduces mass incarceration. There is no analysis to support this bill. The state should look at ways to stem the tide instead of adding to the already increasing corrections population.
 
Status: Referred to House Jud B Committee.
 
SB 2475 - Bail; clarify judicial responsibility to conduct criminal background check.
 
The only thing that should be considered when considering bail is a person's ability to pay. Bail should be the last resort for ensuring court appearance.


Status: Died in committee.


Neutral

HB 453 - Body-warn cameras; prohibit law enforcement from recreating past activities with.

This act will help to implement bare minimum guidelines for usage of body-worn cameras by law enforcement. However, it does not go far enough to ensure protection of citizen’s privacy nor provide comprehensive provisions towards transparency and accountability. 

Status: Died in committee.

 
SB 2840 - Youth Court Act; implement recommendations of Supreme Court’s Commission on Children’s Justice.
 
Status: Signed by Governor.
 
 
 
 

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