New Mississippi Bill Would Put Justice In Judge’s Hands

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(DeSoto County, MS) Sandra Sleeker says criminals should get what they deserve.

”If they break the law, then they should pay for it in some way, how much time, I don’t know.”

A bill waiting for the Mississippi governor’s signature would streamline the state’s justice system and put more decision-making power back into the hands of judges.

For years, so-called tough-on-crime laws have tied judges hands by mandating minimum mandatory prison time.

But such laws have also quickly filled up jails and prisons.

The Criminal Justice reform bill would make sweeping changes, with a focus on options for those who pose the least threat, and more time for those who do.

Experts say it would open up more room in jails in prisons.

”When we relieve jail overcrowding we can put violent criminals in for longer periods of time,” said DeSoto County attorney Jim Franks.

After all, attorneys say judges are in the best position to determine prison time in the interest of the accused and their community.

”The judge is the one that’s supposed to look at all the facts of the case and make a determination of what the sentence should be. It shouldn’t be the legislature doing it for political gain,” explained Franks.

Sandra Sleeker says she’s all for anything that makes the streets safer.

”If you do break the law, then you should be held accountable for it.”

Violent offenders would have to serve at least half their sentence, while non-violent offenders could get a break after a quarter of their time, if they have to go to jail at all.