There is an apparent new opportunity for freedom for many convicted Mississippi residents serving lengthy sentences in prison. State legislators have decided to change parole requirements for convicts that will allow those in prison a new hearing to determine if they can qualify for release. The law was presented for signature last year, but Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves vetoed the legislation.
Public safety as a top priority
The reasoning behind the prior veto according to the Governor was that there was no exclusion for habitual criminals being released back into society earlier than the old parole law would allow. At question is the percentage of a jail term that must be served before the parole board could release convicted defendants and the amount of minimum time. Recidivism is a real problem with many convicts who return to society early, and especially among the institutionalized long-term inmates. The new legislation applies to both violent and nonviolent offenders according to the material facts of their criminal defense arguments. Non-violent offenders must serve 25% of their sentenced time while violent offenders must serve 50-60% of their time, whichever is less.
Changes to the law
While the mandatory percentages were maintained in the new parole reform legislation, the primary change was a definitive minimum length of time as well if it is less than the 25% requirement. A 10-year term will suffice for those with 40 years and beyond while 25-30 years will suffice for those sentenced for 50 years to life. The biggest advantage for long-term violent offenders is that those doing life will be reevaluated for release based on time served and a review of their criminal defense arguments.
It is important to note that the parole board still has considerable control of who gets released. Except for a gubernatorial pardon, the board is still the ultimate authority and reserves the right to retain extremely violent convicts.