The Judiciary’s Legislative Agenda includes the pursuit of Re-entry Courts. It is my understanding that Federal Judge Keith Starrett has advocated this concept, and the Chief Justice has refined the idea and lent his support. The view is that Re-entry Courts could make a big difference to reduce recidivism. This is similar to Drug Court in that the supervision of a judicial officer can make a tremendous behavorial difference to the participants.
House Bill 602 has passed the Judiciary Committee. This bill would create the “Mississippi Re-entry Council.
The purpose of the council is to create effective strategies to assist former inmates in their return to the general population, to reduce the recidivism rates of inmates, to increase public safety, and to reduce budgetary constraints presently created by prison-related costs.
The Re-entry Council shall be led by a steering committee, composed of the designee of the following: a Mississippi United States Attorney, the Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, the Attorney General, the Director of the Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission or other faith-based organization involved in 24 re-entry programs, the Chief Probation Officer of the United States District Courts of Mississippi, the United States District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi, the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, the Executive Director for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, the Executive Director for the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, and the Chairman of the Parole Board.
The Re-entry Council Steering Committee shall have the following duties:
(a) To consider development of a statewide approach to assist re-entry of former inmates into the general population of this state;
(b) To provide recommendations regarding evidence-based approaches that equip inmates with the requisite, individualized resources to promote their successful return to the general population of this state;
(c) To review reports, studies, and materials as it deems appropriate;
(d) To appoint such subcommittees as it finds proper;
(e) To study proposed legislation that seeks to resolve recidivism;
(f) To submit recommendations from its findings to the Legislature, the Governor and the Mississippi Supreme Court. In making such recommendations, the Re-entry Council Steering Committee will seek input from all branches of state and local government, governmental agencies, businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout this state;
(g) To seek and receive grants;
(h) To hire contract personnel and/or staff using any grants received; and
(i) To collaborate with the coordinator of the transitional re-entry center, under the supervision of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, which shall provide administrative support to the council.