Is Mississippi being too tough on some crimes?

Before the Legislature passed a “truth in sentencing” law in 1995, the state had about 11,000 people in prison and the Mississippi Department of Corrections budget was $119 million.

Now, inmate population has doubled, to 22,000 and MDOC’s budget has nearly tripled, to $340 million. Taxpayers routinely have to cover budget deficits for the prison system, and state officials are faced with the same tough question with which federal officials are grappling: How tough can we afford to be on crime, particularly nonviolent and drug crime?

Other states have had to back down from the lock them up, throw away the key laws passed years back, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is advocating the same now on the federal level.

Clarion Ledger