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New laws now in effect in Mississippi.

Bills designed to relieve crowding in Mississippi prisons and save the state money have become law, effective July 1. One bill that Gov. Haley Barbour approved will give certain nonviolent inmates one day off for every day they work in prison programs, instead of the one day off for every three days of work that they have been getting.

Another law makes some terminally ill inmates eligible for early release if they pose no threat to the community. These bills will help alleviate the overcrowding that developed in prisons after 1995 truth-in-sentencing legislation was enacted, said House Corrections Committee Chairman Bennett Malone.

New legislation also will shorten the time a nonviolent inmate has to wait between parole board reviews, limiting that time to one year for nonviolent inmates. "You have an inmate who has served a certain amount of time, that's been a good inmate and he's not in there for a serious crime," Malone said. "He goes into the parole board and they set him off for five years. Well, that takes all the incentive away from that inmate to be a good inmate."

Lawmakers approved a $266.1 million department of corrections budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. That compares with $285 million that Commissioner Chris Epps said his agency will spend in the current fiscal year. "As you can tell, we're doing some fiscally responsible things. Nothing will negatively affect public safety at all," Epps said.

Source: The Clarion-Ledger
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Title Annotation:State to State; department of corrections
Author:St. Gerard, Vanessa
Publication:Corrections Compendium
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U6MS
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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