Group Recommends Changes to Justice System

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Jackson, Miss.

Mississippi lawmakers are being asked to make changes to the criminal justice system in 2014, with the goal of reducing the prisons budget.

Twenty-one judges, prosecutors and other elected officials spent months analyzing sentencing practices and the prison system. The group unanimously adopted recommendations Tuesday, and those are being sent to the Mississippi Legislature.

Any changes in law must be made by the legislature, which starts meeting in January.

One recommendation is to guarantee that nonviolent offenders serve at least 25 percent and violent offenders serve at least 50 percent of their sentences.

Another is to reduce the use of imprisonment for low-level drug possession offenders, with more severe punishment focused on those who sell drugs.

Another is to give better notification to victims before a prisoner is released.