MITCHELL: Mississippi’s dramatic drop in incarceration rates leads the nation.


BY: Charlie Mitchell

  

Mississippi’s inmate population has dropped by 3,000 people over the past several months – by far the fastest decline of any state. The rationale, though, is that prisons cost too much money.

It is a remarkable and largely unheralded change. Long the leader in incarceration – or neck and neck with Louisiana – the number of people in state custody has fallen from 21,743 in January 2014 to 18,939 last week.

What’s going on?

Assorted Pew-recommended, Texas-tested changes in approaches to locking people up were adopted, albeit quietly, by the Mississippi Legislature in 2014.

The process was started by Gov. Phil Bryant when he appointed a task force on prison reform early in his first term. That commission (which preceded the more recent commission appointed in response to top-level corruption) issued a rather straightforward report. The Legislature, for the most part, followed the recommendations.

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