Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Problem with the 85% Reduction

On Monday, House Bill 729 was passed. Before the bill was called up, I had received weeks of emails and phone calls supporting reducing the 85% rule to 25% on nonviolent offenders in state prisons. The misconception was that this bill would reduce the sentences of only first-time offenders of minor crimes and drug convictions. I was prepared to support it, because this would give people who had made stupid mistakes a second chance; it would also allow the state to save millions of dollars in correction costs.

However, this was not the case. The bill does not apply simply to first-time offenders. A person would be ineligible only if:

1. If the prisoner was convicted as a habitual offender.
2. Prisoners convicted of sex crimes.
3. Those convicted of violent crimes and certain drug and theft crimes.

The problem is that "habitual offender", as referenced in number one, would only apply if the prisoner had been convicted three times in Mississippi. This does not take into count if the person had been convicted in some other state.

However, I would have supported the bill if the 85% reduction had only applied to first-time offenders.

I introduced this amendment, and it failed 57-63. So, basically, you could be a multi-time offender and still only be required to serve 25% of your sentence.

It was disappointing that the rest of the House wouldn't limit this reduction of the 85% rule to first-time offenders. The bill ended up passing in its original form, 69-52.

1 comment:

John Leek said...

The bill sounded reasonable on WDAM tonight. I suspect Bryant needs to grandstand on something; this looks like a good contender.