Today, Governor Bryant signed into law House Bill 387, a bipartisan measure designed to improve the criminal justice system in Mississippi. In response, the ACLU of Mississippi issues the following statement, which can be attributed to Jennifer Riley Collins, Executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi.
“The ACLU of Mississippi applauds Governor Bryant and the Mississippi Legislature for taking the necessary steps to further reform in our justice system – a system that for decades has been plagued with inefficiencies, disparities, and unjust policies. This law includes smart reforms that will lower taxpayer costs, and provide a second chance for thousands of Mississippians.
“Re-entry and employability are among the most critical factors in supporting meaningful re-introduction into society for ex-offenders. Laws that utilize restorative justice approaches lower prison costs for the state, create safer communities, and increase opportunities for employment. HB 387 increases the likelihood for successful reentry for those who have served their time, and ensures that people living in poverty are not criminalized for being poor.
“Being poor is not a crime, and no one should have to face jail time simply because they cannot afford to pay fees and fines. This bill increases the likelihood for successful reentry for those who have served their time, and ensures that people living in poverty are not criminalized for being poor.
“Essential criminal justice reforms lessen the impact of former justice system involvement. This law will allow parolees to have visits by their parole officers at their job, instead of missing work. This small but impactful policy will help to alleviate employment hurdles for parolees, providing them with re-entry support.
“In 2014, our state acknowledged that we were taking the first step in reforming our broken, unstainable, inefficient criminal justice system. Today marks the second step toward smart justice that will further criminal justice reform in Mississippi.”