Right on Crime Signatories Applaud New Criminal Justice Reform Bill Passed by Mississippi Legislature

Several of the prominent conservative leaders who serve as signatories to the Right on Crime Statement of Principles released statements today applauding the bill passed this week by the Mississippi Legislature. House Bill 585 was resoundingly passed with a landslide vote in both chambers and represents a comprehensive public safety reform package designed to cut crime and taxpayer costs.

The bill is now on the desk of Governor Phil Bryant, who, along with Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn, has led the Mississippi criminal justice system overhaul since mid-2013.

Statements from Right on Crime signatories about Mississippi House Bill 585:

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform: “This has worked in Texas and other states across the South. It has cut crime and cut government spending. It’s based on solid conservative principles and it’s what good governance is all about.”

David Keene, former President of the National Rifle Association and former Chairman of the American Conservative Union: “Mississippi’s reforms reflect conservative ideals: public safety, personal responsibility and limited government. Many states have made these kinds of changes, and mostly they’ve been led by conservatives who understand these issues from both a budgetary and crime prevention perspective.”

Richard Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com: “People now understand that we can’t just take their money and build more and more prisons year after year. Mississippi leaders studied their criminal justice system and came up with a strong set of reforms that will establish more certainty in sentencing, prioritize prison beds for chronic violent offenders, and contain taxpayer costs.”

Pat Nolan, Director of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform: “The reforms in Mississippi’s new bill have been proven effective in other states at keeping the public safe while saving money. That’s a combination that every taxpayer will like.”

For seven months, the 21-member Mississippi Corrections and Criminal Justice Task Force, comprised of judges, prosecutors, sheriffs, and elected officials, conducted an exhaustive investigative process. The Task Force studied the research about what works and what doesn’t in the correctional field and learned about reforms that are reducing crime and government spending in other states, such as Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas, ultimately concluding that Mississippi was earning a poor return on its public safety investment. Without reform, state taxpayers would have to pay another $266 million bill for new prison costs over the next ten years.

The Task Force offered 19 research-tested recommendations designed to give Mississippians more public safety at less taxpayer expense. These policy proposals formed the basis for widely-supported omnibus HB 585, aiming to chart a new direction for Mississippi, cutting crime and saving state taxpayers a minimum of $266 million in the next decade.

In an op-ed in the Clarion-Ledger, director of public affairs at Mississippi State University Sid Salter praised the efforts behind HB 585: “[I]n terms of common-sense criminal justice reforms designed to reduce the staggering and ever-escalating costs of Mississippi’s criminal justice system, few legislatures have taken on the real world issues of crime and punishment in a more responsible and bipartisan manner than has the 2014 session.”