Governor ready to tackle prison problems - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Governor ready to tackle prison problems

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Life behind barbed wire is a crowded one for Mississippi inmates, and Governor Phil Bryant admits funding cuts are only making matters worse. Life behind barbed wire is a crowded one for Mississippi inmates, and Governor Phil Bryant admits funding cuts are only making matters worse.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Life behind barbed wire is a crowded one for Mississippi inmates, and Governor Phil Bryant admits funding cuts are only making matters worse.

"We have a tendency to under fund to department of corrections. I know we had a deficit this year," Bryant said.

Mississippi's looking at a program called Right on Crime. It focuses on keeping offenders out once they're released. Bryant says the state can save money through alternative sentences, and he's open to discussions on non-violent offenders.

"We are talking more about using electronic devices. If we can put an ankle bracelet on an offender and allow them to stay at home and even to be able to work. We do that program now and the offender pays for it. So we need to do more of that," explained Bryant.

Earlier this year, Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps pointed to those inmates as a reason for the packed prisons.

"Prison first and foremost is for those that we are afraid of, who are violent, who are dangerous," Epps said.

But drug and property offenders make up over half the state inmates.

"We are going to have to find that line where we say who needs to go to prison because of that and who needs treatment and who needs to go to the drug court system," Epps said.

On a different level, Bryant says the cycle has a bigger impact. His example is when a female non-violent offender is locked up.

"What we know and you find out is taking that mother out of the home, incarcerating her away from her children. It has obviously a deterrent effect on their family," said the Governor.

A House bill established a state task force this legislative session. The task force is charged with filing a report by the end of the year on the divide between corrections and criminal justice.

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