Mississippi editorial roundup

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

July 1

The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., on Gov. Haley Barbour being right:

At the annual convention of the Mississippi Press Association in June, Gov. Haley Barbour took a great deal of pride in his support of expanding the port at Gulfport.

It’s understandable. It was a big gamble in 2005, but it’s one he was willing to take and it appears that, when all is said and done, future Mississippians will look back and appreciate his stance.

Expanding the Mississippi State Port of Gulfport is a long-term project that will create thousands of jobs and strengthen the state and national economies, Barbour told the newspaper editors and publishers.

July 1

The Mississippi Press, Pascagoula, on the domestic violence law:

Mississippi penalties for misdemeanor domestic violence are too weak to make first offenders think twice about repeating their crimes.

According to Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence, some people charged with simple assault domestic violence — a misdemeanor — come into court and say: “Judge, it’s just a fine, a night in jail. It was worth it.”

Such comments speak volumes about how ineffective the misdemeanor penalties currently are. Yet experts say that nipping domestic violence in the bud, before it escalates, is crucial to breaking the cycle.

So what’s the remedy?

One promising idea is a program implemented by Pascagoula City Court called New Beginnings. It’s a nonprofit program, funded by a grant, that takes couples referred by an arresting officer and city prosecutor. Offenders can have their records cleared if they complete the program without another domestic violence arrest.

If such a plan could be extended statewide, it could attack the problem at its root while also offering an incentive for offenders to get back on track.