The 2021 Legislative Session began on January 5, 2020. As we work to protect, defend, and expand civil rights and civil liberties for all Mississippians in the hallways, meeting rooms, and chambers of the State Capitol, we need you to stand with us to make our voices heard.
Our priorities for the legislative session begin with election/voting reform and criminal justice reform. We also plan to support legislation advancing fair housing and community schools.
The ACLU of Mississippi is your watchdog at the State Capitol, working every day to protect and expand civil rights and civil liberties for all Mississippians. At key moments during the legislative session, we will be calling on you to help us push for and fight back against any attacks that may arise. Keep an eye out for our emails and be prepared to contact your legislators. Follow us on social media for more real time updates about what is going on at the Capitol.
Here is what we hope to accomplish:
1. Election and voting reform
ACLU Mississippi is committed to protecting the voting rights of all Mississippians, especially Black communities who have historically been denied full access to the right to vote free of suppression.
The ability to vote without unnecessary obstacles and suppression is not simply about the ability to cast a vote, it is about the ability of every Mississippian to fully participate in the political process and exercise the inherent rights bestowed upon each citizen of this state - the right to adequate housing, healthcare, education, economic pursuits, and freedom from discrimination.
We will join dozens of advocacy groups demanding common sense election reforms to expand access to voting by removing barriers to participation. ACLU of Mississippi will advocate for and support legislation to:
- Establish Online Voter Registration;
- Restore Voting Rights for Formerly incarcerated Mississippians;
- Establish No-Excuse Early Voting; and
- Establish Automatic Voter Registration at Age 18.
2. Criminal justice reform
Mississippi has the third-highest imprisonment rates in the country. Mass incarceration, long sentences, habitual penalties and cash bail systems are all failed public safety strategies.
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.
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:
- Reforming the statewide system of excessive and unconstitutional pre-trial detention;
- Limiting mandatory life sentences for less serious offenses; and
- Creating greater parole opportunities.
3. Ensure fair housing for all
ACLU of Mississippi will support legislation to ensure that every Mississippian is able to obtain housing free from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV/AIDS status.
Adequate housing is more than just having a roof over one’s head. Indeed, housing discrimination contributes to housing segregation and concentrated poverty leading to greater inequalities in access to employment opportunities, health care, and education.
4. Establish community schools
ACLU of Mississippi supports amendment of the Districts of Innovation legislation to make way for Mississippi schools to become community schools. ACLU of Mississippi believes that education and community are inseparable.
Educational models like community schools merges academics, health/social services, youth/community development and engagement in one place – the community. This holistic approach to education produces improved learning, stronger families and healthier communities.