Wiggins praises passage of Mississippi criminal justice overhaul

A bill to provide for comprehensive improvements to Mississippi’s criminal justice system, passed both houses of the legislature Monday, state Sen. Brice Wiggins said in a news release. The bill contains the same language as Wiggins’ senate version, providing alternative sentencing for nonviolent and low-risk offenders in exchange for swifter sanctions and extensive supervision after their release. 

According to the Associated Press, the House is holding the bill for more debate.

Supporters say it will cut millions of dollars in prison costs.

The goal of the legislation is to reduce the current rate of recidivism while giving taxpayers a better return on their spending for public safety, Wiggins said in the release Currently one third of non-violent offenders are being placed back in jail after three years. 

"Today's final passage of HB 585 was the result of more than a year's worth of work involving many stakeholders throughout Mississippi's criminal justice system all of whom I believe put their own interests aside for the future financial stability of our state," Wiggins said. "Through this legislation we are reducing the rising costs of incarceration to the tune of $266 million while at the same time directing the state's resources into programs such as drug courts that are proven to reduce recidivism and strengthen families.” 

Wiggins spread the credit for the around, praising Rep. Andy Gipson, Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps, Gov. Phil Bryant,  Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Speaker Philip Gunn and the members of the Corrections and Criminal Justice Task Force. He also said the bill was supported by the state Bar Association,  the Mississippi Economic Council, Christian Action Commission, Mississippi Police Chiefs and the Justice Fellowship.