Mississippi Senate offers proposals designed to curb crime

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 8:17 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - You want to feel safe where you live. The people you’ve elected to serve at the State Capitol are now offering up solutions they think will equal safer communities.

”I think about living in this area and being afraid of being carjacked all the time and just the awareness,” said Jackson resident Heidi Barnett. “You know, we have to live on high alert all the time.”

That’s a sentiment not lost on Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann and senators.

“We realize this has become an epidemic in our state and it’s time to have it addressed,” said Hosemann.

Changing sentencing guidelines is a step they’re hoping will curb crimes like carjacking.

“It’s simply not fair for someone in one area to get a five years sentence for that and then get it reduced to nothing suspended completely,” noted Senate Judiciary B Chairman Sen. Joey Fillingane. “In other areas of our state, people are serving a hard time for that.”

“It’s also the belief of the Senate when these individuals commit these crimes that this is the first step towards later crimes,” added Hosemann.

So, here’s what they’re proposing… giving a minimum sentence of 5 years to carjackers and a 10-year minimum if it’s an armed carjacking. They’ll also up the penalties for possession of the stolen property, including motor vehicles. Jimmy Stewart thinks it’s time.

“It’s an invasion on you when someone steals your car,” said Jimmy Stewart. “I’ve had my car stolen, so I know what that feels like. And I just think that if you are bold enough to do that to someone...yes, you need to face the consequences of that.”

But not everyone thinks increasing sentencing is the answer.

“Take a step back and put all that energy into why these crimes are happening, and help the people, help the communities that need the help to prevent the crimes from happening in the first place,” said Barnett.

Still, lawmakers say it’s about safety.

“Every person in the state of Mississippi wants and deserves a safe community, they have reached out to us and said, please do something,” explained Senate Judiciary A Chairman Sen. Brice Wiggins.

Here are more details from the Lt. Governor’s office regarding the crime-related bills he is supporting.

Senator Joey Fillingane authored S.B. 2101 that would create new minimum sentences for the crimes of fleeing law enforcement resulting in bodily harm (10 years); fleeing law enforcement resulting in death (20 years); carjacking (5 years); and armed carjacking (10 years).

Resisting arrest where an officer is subjected to serious bodily harm would also be a felony, with imprisonment in the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) custody for up to two years under the legislation.

S.B. 2099 would punish motor vehicle theft as a felony, with a fine of $10,000, or imprisonment in MDOC custody for a minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years, or both. A second offense would result in a fine of $20,000, or a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 40 years, or both.

The crime of receiving stolen property would include a stolen motor vehicle under S.B. 2100 which would receive a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment and a maximum of 20 years or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Other legislation is aimed at addressing public corruption.

The statute of limitations would increase with S.B. 2122 from three to five years for bribery of a public official, matching federal limitations.

Senator England authored S.B. 2420 creating a registry of offenders who commit the crime of embezzlement or misappropriation of public funds.

Offenders would stay on the list for five years after conviction or the date of release from incarceration.

The bill would restrict governmental entities from hiring someone on the list to a position in accounting or which otherwise oversees taxpayer funds.

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