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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

MS expands work-release program, job training to reduce recidivism

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Thursday, June 20, 2024   

Mississippi's pilot work-release program for incarcerated individuals has been extended to three years.

The program allows qualified participants to gain job skills and earn money while serving their sentence.

Wil Ervin, senior vice president of the advocacy group Empower Mississippi, said the existing law has a pilot work-release program operated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. It is limited to only 25 participants, but the expansion of Senate Bill 2445 will include more state and regional correctional facilities.

"Obviously, we recognize the importance of an individual having a job both while they're in prison and when they get out," Ervin pointed out. "Having a job is one of the biggest predictors of recidivism for individuals once they're released from prison."

Ervin noted during the legislative session, his organization worked with the bill's author, Sen. Juan Barnett, D-Heidelberg, and House Corrections Chairperson Becky Curry to expand the program.

They decided to expand this program statewide at the end of the session whenever the conference report from the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review was released.

He added the working wage participants will receive is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

"The PEER report that was released last year shows that average wages were $13.35 an hour," Ervin explained. "Under the new bill, 15% goes back to administration of the program; 25% goes towards child support fines, fees, restitution, court costs."

Ervin added 50% goes into a savings account, which will be made available to the individual when they are released. He pointed out another 10% can be used for commissary and incidental expenses while they are in prison.


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