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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

'Second look' laws gain traction, but MS sticks to elderly parole

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Thursday, May 23, 2024   

"Second look" laws to help reduce prison time are gaining traction across the country but Mississippi is not following suit.

A new report examinee policies in a dozen states which allow judges, rather than parole boards, to reconsider sentences. Mississippi lacks a "second chance" law but does provide an earlier parole option for older incarcerated individuals.

Becky Feldman, director of the Second Look Network for The Sentencing Project, explained the policy allows those who are 60 years old and have served 10 years and a quarter of their sentence to be considered for parole, except for those convicted of violent crimes or habitual offenders.

"Because of all those exclusions, violent crimes, and habitual offenders, I don't know how many 60-year-olds are serving sentences for misdemeanors," Feldman noted. "It's probably not a large population of people. So it's probably a pretty ineffective elder parole law."

Feldman pointed out six states and the District of Columbia permit a court to reconsider a sentence, usually under certain conditions, such as the person's age at the time of the offense and amount of time served.

Feldman argued it is essential for Mississippians to know allowing a judge to consider someone's rehabilitation in open court, with an adversarial and transparent process with an attorney, is a very different, meaningful and fair proceeding.

"It's something that I think should be strongly considered in every state, not just Mississippi, but particularly Mississippi because of the high prison population they have there," Feldman contended. "There's going to be, if it's not already, a significant aging prison population."

Feldman emphasized organizations, including the American Bar Association, the Fair and Just Prosecution and the Model Penal Code, call for legislatures to enact second look laws.

The report suggested 10 provisions to be included in any second look law to ensure broad, fair and meaningful application to the incarcerated. She added the most meaningful recommendation is to apply the statute retroactively.


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