State Fact Sheet

Public Safety in Mississippi

Mississippi approved comprehensive sentencing and corrections legislation in 2014 that enhances certainty and clarity in sentencing and prioritizes prison space for violent and career offenders. House Bill 585 also expands judicial discretion by authorizing alternatives to incarceration for less-serious offenders, strengthens supervision and programs to reduce recidivism, and establishes performance objectives and measures. The legislation is expected to save the state $266 million over 10 years by preventing projected growth in the prison population and to improve public safety by reinvesting nearly $11 million in accountability courts for adult and youth drug offenders. The state’s bipartisan, interbranch Corrections and Criminal Justice Task Force developed the policy recommendations for the legislation with technical assistance from Pew as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.

I have no tolerance for career criminals or violent offenders, and this legislation will allow Mississippi the resources to hold these offenders accountable. —Governor Phil Bryant (R)

Historically, Mississippi has had one of the nation’s highest and fastest-growing imprisonment rates. Between 1983 and 2013, the state’s prison population grew 300 percent, to more than 22,400 inmates, with an additional 1,951 expected over 10 years. Between 2002 and 2012, the state also experienced a 28 percent increase in average sentence lengths that, while partially offset by expanded early release options, led to longer average prison stays.