JACKSON, Miss. (Ben Caxton) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves killed a bill but not an idea when he vetoed the Mississippi Correctional Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2020, which would have made more inmates eligible for the possibility of parole.
Advocates for criminal justice changes are still saying Mississippi needs to ease the moral and financial burden of a prison system that is the subject of multiple lawsuits over safety and sanitation and that is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
The push for change is coming from groups across the political spectrum, including the liberal Poor People’s Campaign and the libertarian Mississippi Center for Public Policy.
In an email last week, the Center for Public Policy wrote about Mississippi habitual-offender laws that keep people imprisoned for years. It cited the case of Tameka Drummer, who received a life sentence in 2008 after she was pulled over for an expired license plate in Alcorn County and officers found a small amount of marijuana in her car. Drummer was sentenced as a habitual offender because of previous convictions.
“Multiple bills that would have impacted habitual offender laws did not make it past the finish line this session and another bill that would have reformed parole for up to 2,000 prisoners was vetoed by Gov. Tate Reeves,” the center wrote. “That shouldn’t be the last word. We know much needs to be done.”