The State of Mississippi is the world leader in incarceration, which means that no other state in the world has more people per capita behind bars. This includes states in Russia, China and Iran, per World Population Review.
Cliff Johnson, who is the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law, hit out at Mississippi for continuing to use a system that he sees as flawed.
“Is there a political price to be paid for foolishly sticking with a failed system that’s made us the world capital of mass incarceration? What’s it going to take for Mississippians to realize that the mass incarceration we have carried out for decades has made us less safe, rather than safer?” Johnson asked.
The Vera Institute of Justice did note that the amount of people incarcerated in the US is 16% lower today than it was at the start of the Covid pandemic. Mississippi’s inmate population spiked by 1500 in the last 16 months and now stands at over 18,000.
“We have perfected throwing people away for long periods of time, and yet after decades and decades of this approach, Mississippians are more fearful about violent crime than any time I remember,” Johnson went onto say.
If Mississippi’s current inmate trend is not reversed, they will have over 19,000 inmates by the end of this year and could surpass 22,000 inmates by the end of 2022. Mississippi’s legislative watchdog stated that this would cost taxpayers in excess of $100 million per year, based on a daily cost per head of $53.72.
Johnson went onto express his anger at the cycle of throwing money at prisons and not finding other solutions. “We’re stuck in this futile cycle of throwing more money at prisons. Even with the Department of Justice breathing down our necks, we can’t handle the people we have,” Johnson said. He also noted that Mississippi doesn’t have the resources in place to help inmates turn their lives around, therefore they are unable to reduce their inmate population.
“The Mississippi Department of Corrections can’t have a rodeo or enough GED classes, because we don’t have the staffing. We probably can’t support more than about 12,000 incarcerated, but we’ve got 18,000,” he added.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: MISSISSIPPITODAY.ORG
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