From babies to beer, new bills in hopper

State Rep. Richard Bennett is drafting a bill that would eliminate conjugal visits for state prison inmates, a practice more or less invented at the State Penitentiary at Parchman back in the early 1900s.

“We are, I understand, about to build new rooms and buildings for this,” Bennett said. “What bothers me is that either female inmates or spouses can get pregnant from this, and — I’m trying to get some statistics but I would suspect we are paying one way or another for these children conceived in prison. … I think a lot of people don’t even realize this is allowed in prison. We’re one of only a few states that allows it.”

As the 2012 Mississippi legislative session gets rolling, South Mississippi lawmakers are working on bills covering topics that include crime and punishment, taxes, the size and pay of the Legislature, coastal insurance, and beer. Some are re-filing bills they’ve filed many times in the past. Others are drafting new legislation based on input from constituents. Some — mostly veteran lawmakers — are prolific and already have many bills in the hopper. Others, especially newcomers, are waiting to see how things shake out, as new leadership takes over the House and Senate, before drafting lots of bills.

Sun Herald