JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - “I have mother’s calling me crying everyday what can I do, what can I do” said Amanda Hamilton.
Hamilton is used to being on the front lines. She’s the director of Mississippi Dreams Prisoner Family Support, which is a group that helps families of incarcerated men and women.
"I tell them what we can do is we can stand up and we can fight,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton and other activists gathered for a mass incarceration rally Saturday at Smith Park. They’re calling for an end to practices they say incarcerate far too many people for far too long for non-violent crimes.
“Some of these non-violent offenders which takes up most of the mass incarceration population, they’re not a threat to society. They’re not a threat to the streets. They’re just tearing families apart,” said Hamilton.
Benny Ivey stated, “Locking somebody up and throwing away the key is not the answer.”
Ivey spent 11 years in prison for drugs. He said he’s been clean for 10 years and now he’s a small business owner.
“Locking me up for long stretches at a time all that did was institutionalize me. The root problems in my life they were never dealt with. They were never addressed,” Ivey said.
Activists said treatment is the answer. They want more programs to help prisoners when they are released. They also want state lawmakers to change harsh sentencing for juveniles.
They plan to take their fight to lawmakers during the next legislative session.
Activists said tackling the mass incarceration crisis would be a second chance for inmates and their families.