A former Assistant District Attorney for nearly a decade and the recipient of the “2013 Legislator of the Year” awarded by Mississippi’s Law Enforcement community, Senator Brice Wiggins has sent Governor Bryant a blueprint for reforming the state’s criminal justice system. “Our current system is going to collapse under its own weight of inefficiencies and the growth of government spending it will require to keep it running. It is not financially prudent nor is it structured to provide effective justice and correctional services,” Senator Wiggins said.
To address this critical topic, Governor Bryant has asked for input. “My four-point plan is based on my experiences and research as an Assistant District Attorney and State Senator sitting on the Corrections and Judiciary Division B committees. It is a first step in this important conversation, but we must start the process of reforming our criminal justice system in order to better serve victims, taxpayers and stop the revolving door of crime. The Criminal Justice Task Force, established by the legislature last year, is working on solutions and I look forward to taking action on a comprehensive plan in the next legislative session,” Brice said.
In summary, Senator Wiggins recommends making changes to four areas:
- Give prosecutors and judges more and better tools to work with. This includes, but is not limited to, changing sentencing laws and expanding the number of crimes for which House Arrest can be a smarter option.
- Expand access to drug treatment programs, properly fund drug courts and distinguish between dealers of drugs and users; dealers must go to jail.
- Use correctional resources properly and efficiently by referring to the 1989 PEER study that provided a new formula for allocating the number ADA’s based on actual caseload rather than by “political whim.”
- Implement a Child Victims’ Bill of Rights to provide children with a safer justice system and protect them from sexual predators who are now manipulating the current system to avoid punishment.
Across the country, state leaders are beginning to seriously address how to reduce crime, cut the recidivism rate, make re-entry into society more realistic and address the skyrocketing costs associated with a broken criminal justice system. “As a state and country, we cannot afford to have an exploding prison population. It will bankrupt us and lead to further unnecessary destruction of communities and families,” Wiggins said.
To read comments by conservative leaders about this important issue, please visit www.rightoncrime.com. Below are samples:
“There is an urgent need to address the astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential…The criminal justice system is broken, and conservatives must lead the way in fixing it.” — Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
“…state and local leaders should have flexibility in enforcing state law and tailoring victim’s services to the individualized needs of their communities, rather than having to comply with one-size-fits-all federal requirements.” — Mike Lee, U.S. Senator from Utah
“Today’s criminal justice system is big government on steroids, and the responsibility for taming its excesses falls to those committed to smaller government: conservatives. We fight against big government, excess spending, unaccountability, and bureaucracy in nearly every other segment of spending.” — Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform
“Conservatives are known for being tough on crime, but we must also be tough on criminal justice spending. That means demanding more cost-effective approaches that enhance public safety.” — William J. Bennett, former Secretary of Education
“They can affect anyone at any time, though they disproportionately affect those without the means to fight them. We should stand and loudly proclaim enough is enough. We should not have laws that ruin the lives of young men and women who have committed no violence.” — Rand Paul, U.S. Senator from Kentucky
“Our federal mandatory minimum sentences are simply heavy handed and arbitrary. I think they need to recognize, as we’ve tried to do here, that there are issues that transcend traditional party labels. There are things that are considered to be important by the electorate that do not necessarily hinge on whose idea it was. For our state, criminal justice reform is a classic example of that. It certainly bridged the party divide…I’m going to encourage the party at the state level to do that.” — Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia
“When you’re dealing with human beings, if you’re going to put your own future ahead of other people’s lives and their ability to reclaim their lives, you’re making a big mistake.” — John Kasich, Governor of Ohio