Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps says the prison system faces a budget crunch, partly because the Parole Board releases fewer inmates these days.
But the Parole Board chairman, Malcolm McMillin, says it’s not his job to worry about Epps’ budget.
McMillin said decisions about parole are strictly up to the five-member Parole Board, which he has led since Gov. Phil Bryant appointed him to the post in January 2012. He said he sees no need to meet with Epps to talk about the prisons’ financial condition.
“As far as the Department of Corrections goes, I think it is up to the commissioner to be concerned as to whether or not his budget is balanced and whether he has enough money to operate is between (him) and the Legislature,” said McMillin, a former Hinds County sheriff.
The Clarion-Ledger reported that Epps sent McMillin a letter last month requesting a meeting because he wants McMillin to understand how the Parole Board’s actions affect the Mississippi Department of Corrections Budget.
Epps compared two 10-month periods. He said 47.8 percent of eligible inmates were paroled from March to December 2011. From May 2012 to this past February, the board paroled 35.5 percent of those eligible.
Former state Sen. Doug Davis of Hernando, a Mississippi PEP contributor, has been approved by the Senate to the Mississippi Parole Board.
Davis began his new job in late January after his appointment by Gov. Phil Bryant.
Congratulations to Doug from all of your cohorts at Mississippi PEP. We hope you never have to see us in an official capacity!
Filed under contributor, Doug Davis, Law Enforcement, Legislature, MDOC, Mississippi, Mississippi State Senate, Phil Bryant, Politics, Public Safety, Republican, State Government
Governor Phil Bryant has appointed former State Senator and Mississippi PEP contributor Doug Davis to the state Parole Board.
The parole board is comprised of one chairman and four active members, each appointed at-large. The board meets weekly to review the cases of state offenders to determine parole eligibility. Davis’ appointment will be brought before the Mississippi Senate for confirmation this legislative session.
Davis recently served as assistant vice president of First Security Bank, and he represented District 1 for two terms in the Mississippi Senate. While serving in the Legislature, Davis chaired both the Appropriations Committee and the Universities and Colleges Committee. He was recognized as Legislator of the Year by the Mississippi Troopers Association and the Mississippi Police Chief’s Association.
“It is an honor to be asked by Gov. Bryant to serve on the Mississippi State Parole Board,” Davis said. “This position will require hard work, dedication, and a commitment to balancing justice and rehabilitation. I look forward to working with Chairman Malcolm McMillin and the other board members as we strive to make the best possible decisions for the safety of the citizens of Mississippi.”
Davis serves on the boards of directors for the DeSoto County Economic Council and the Palmer Home for Children.
Davis: Time to decentralize Mississippi College Board, allow universities to choose their own leaders.
Davis: Discussion of PERS corrections bring out the fear.
Filed under contributor, Doug Davis, Governor, Law Enforcement, Legislature, MDOC, Mississippi, Mississippi State Senate, Phil Bryant, Politics, Public Service, Republican, State Government
Just four states carried out more than three-fourths of the executions in the United States this year, while another 23 states have not put an inmate to death in 10 years, an anti-capital punishment group reports.
The Death Penalty Information Center says in its annual report that Texas led the nation, as it does every year, with 15 executions. Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma had 6 each. Together, the four states accounted for 33 of the 43 executions in the United States in 2012.
The report also says that a handful of states were responsible for nearly two-thirds of death sentences imposed in 2012.
Sheriff David Allison, in a wide-ranging and candid interview, said Pearl River County has a “major drug problem,” and law enforcement officials can’t “arrest our way out of it.”
“It is a spiritual problem and will be overcome through education and moral and spiritual teaching in our schools and churches,” he said. He also said that the problem is mostly with prescription drugs prescribed by doctors, but there is nothing law enforcement officials can do about it if a person has a legitimate and legal drug prescription.
He said he and a group of concerned citizens plan to begin a drug outreach in the county’s three school systems in an attempt to reach children at an impressionable age and tell them the dangers of drugs.
It is the first time Allison has spoken out publicly on the what some people are calling a “drug epidemic” in Pearl River County.
Nobody argues against imprisoning people convicted of crimes, especially violent crimes, but there’s room within the debate about sentencing to consider variations on the theme rather than pouring additional millions year after year into the budget for corrections. Mississippi has more than 60,000 people in the corrections system – prisoners and people on probation or under house arrest.
Full long-term funding for public education and emphasis on universal higher educational attainment in the long term could reduce at least the rate of increase in prison spending because fewer Mississippians would become criminals.
For example, were the Mississippi Adequate Education Program fully funded for 18 years, as has been the Corrections budget from 1994 to 2012, including yearly increases and deficit costs, educational attainment arguably would have increased with a resulting decline in people entering the corrections system.
Some legislators argued that perspective at the joint committees’ meeting with Epps, who agreed with the more-for-education supporters.
At some point Mississippi must come to grips with its spending priorities based on politicizing corrections policy while ignoring quantifiably better ways to do it – at great cost to taxpayers and other state-funded programs.
Federal statistics show that 68 percent of state prison inmates did not receive a high school diploma. That’s one of the reasons they’re in prison.
Filed under Budget, Democrats, Education, Law Enforcement, Lee County, MDOC, Mississippi, North Mississippi, Opinion, Politics, Spending, State Government, Superintendents, Teachers, Tupelo
Complaining about too little access to public information has been a lifelong pursuit for me. Still, I think a “D+” grade assigned to Mississippi by a national group is too low.
This state has plenty of good laws, plenty of verbal support for transparency at the highest levels of state government. The train jumps the track in a couple of areas, including enforcement and, frankly, interest by journalists and the public.
Take campaign finance records as one example.
For as long as there has been an Internet, Mississippi secretaries of state have placed the donation and spending reports of every candidate for every office online for anyone, anywhere to see.
There’s plenty of room to improve the reports themselves and how they can be found and searched. There’s no excuse for not making the improvements. But the reports are open to public view.
Yet how many local papers write stories about where candidates are getting their campaign funds? Not many. No local TV crew mines this type of information.
Much the same is true for the website seethespending.org. It’s a fairly new site operated by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. It offers a wealth of information. Wonder how much your county spent on cell phones? (Grenada County spent $14,071.89 with AT&T Mobility in 2010.) The information is there, usually easy to locate.
Filed under Opinion, Retirement, PERS, Mississippi, Spending, State Bonds, Legislature, Public Safety, Treasurer, SLRP, Politics, MAEP, Taxes, Haley Barbour, MDA, State Government, MDOT, Law Enforcement, Public Service Commission, Revenue, Transportation, Medicaid, MDOC
Mississippi Department of Corrections
State inmates in community work centers provided more than 2.4 million hours of free labor, worth an estimated $17.7 million for cities, counties, state agencies and charitable organizations during fiscal year 2012, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Community work centers are alternative facilities for inmates to finish serving their sentences. The inmates provide a valuable source of free labor. Their work includes janitorial work, mechanic work and beautification of roadsides. It is common to see MDOC inmates picking up trash on the highways of Mississippi or at city and state parks.
The CWC is a community-based minimum security facility designed to provide a gradual, systematic reintroduction of an offender into community life.