Proposed law change would keep violent offenders behind bars

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Prosecutors Association is calling on lawmakers to increase the penalty for those who kill in the state. The association has now drafted a Degrees of Murder Bill to do just that. But the bill may not make it through the senate if it doesn't gain more support.

Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence thinks the bill would have a better chance of passing if more people let their legislators know they support it. He said the state needs to add more teeth to its murder laws.

"Being prosecutors, we meet three or four times a year now. After hearing so many stories of problems that we are all having, we decided to draft this bill and get to the legislature," Lawrence said.

Under current state law, there's murder, which carries a life sentence and then manslaughter that's a 20 year crime. The Degrees of Murder Bill would add 2nd degree murder to that list.

"This creates a 25 to 40 year crime, and it will be day per day time. So we think it is a strong stance against crime."

Lawrence said the 2001 shooting death of Gautier High Valedictorian Kyle Todd is the perfect example of why this proposed law is needed.

"He was murdered. The guy plead to manslaughter and if you recall we fought that, him being released after eight to nine years because he got good time served," Lawrence said.

Kyle's mom, Carla Todd, agrees if a person does the crime they should do the time.

"There are too many families having to go through the same scenario that I have gone through. And with the increased number of homicides, something needs to be done," Todd said.

"I would hate for another year to go by where families of victims to violent crimes would have to suffer through that process of having to determine murder versus manslaughter, and the best thing for their family," Lawrence said.

State Senator Brice Wiggins of Jackson County introduced the bill. This is just one of several proposed laws that the Mississippi Prosecutors Association is pushing for this legislative session.

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