2021 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Barnett, Jackson (11th), Sparks, Butler, Wiggins, Jackson (32nd), Simmons (13th)
AN ACT ENTITLED THE "MISSISSIPPI EARNED PAROLE ELIGIBILITY ACT"; TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PRESCRIBE CONDITIONS FOR PAROLE ELIGIBILITY AND TO PROVIDE LIMITATIONS ON INMATE ELIGIBILITY TO PETITION THE SENTENCING COURT FOR PAROLE ELIGIBILITY IF THE INMATE IS SERVING A SENTENCE FOR A CRIME OF VIOLENCE OR NONVIOLENCE; TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-3.1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR INMATE CASE PLANNING AND TO PRESCRIBE DATES FOR THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS TO COMPLETE CASE PLANS FOR PAROLE-ELIGIBLE INMATES TO ENSURE THAT THE PLAN IS ACHIEVABLE; TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-3.2, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE A MINIMUM TIME THAT OFFENDERS CONVICTED OF A CRIME OF VIOLENCE MUST SERVE BEFORE RELEASE AND A MINIMUM PERCENTAGE OF OTHER SENTENCES THAT OTHER OFFENDERS MUST SERVE BEFORE RELEASE; TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REMOVE PROHIBITION AGAINST COMPENSATION OR PER DIEM OF THE MISSISSIPPI PAROLE BOARD, ITS REQUIREMENTS, AND THE MINIMUM VOTE REQUIRED TO GRANT PAROLE TO AN INMATE CONVICTED OF CAPITAL MURDER OR SEX OFFENSE; TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-15, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY; TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE VICTIM OR DESIGNATED FAMILY MEMBER SHALL BE PROVIDED AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD BY THE PAROLE BOARD PRIOR TO A PAROLE DECISION; TO AMEND SECTION 47-7-18, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE CERTAIN PAROLE HEARINGS FOR SEX OFFENDERS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Mississippi Earned Parole Eligibility Act."
SECTION 2. Section 47-7-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
47-7-3. (1) Every prisoner
who has been convicted of any offense against the State of Mississippi, and is
confined in the execution of a judgment of such conviction in the Mississippi
Department of Corrections for a definite term or terms of one (1) year or over,
or for the term of his or her natural life, whose record of conduct shows that
such prisoner has observed the rules of the department, and who has served * * *
the minimum required time for parole
eligibility, may be released on parole as * * * set forth
offenders. Except as provided by Sections 99-19-81 through 99-19-87,
no * * *
person sentenced as a confirmed and habitual criminal * * * shall be eligible for parole;
offenders. Any person who * * *
has been * * * sentenced for a
sex offense as defined in Section 45-33-23(h) shall not be released on
parole except for a person under the age of nineteen (19) who has been convicted
under Section 97-3-67;
(c) * * *
Capital offenders. No
person * * *
sentenced for the following offenses shall be eligible for parole:
(i) Capital murder committed on or after July 1, 1994, as defined in Section 97-3-19(2);
(ii) Any offense to which an offender is sentenced to life imprisonment under the provisions of Section 99-19-101; or
(iii) Any offense to which an offender is sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole under the provisions of Section 99-19-101, whose crime was committed on or after July 1, 1994;
* * *
No person * * *
sentenced for murder
in the first degree, whose crime was committed on or after June 30, 1995, or
murder in the second degree, as defined in Section 97-3-19, shall be eligible for
(e) Human trafficking.
No person * * *
for human trafficking, as defined in Section 97-3-54.1, whose crime was committed
on or after July 1, 2014, shall be eligible for parole;
(f) Drug trafficking. No person sentenced for trafficking and aggravated trafficking, as defined in Section 41-29-139(f) through (g), shall be eligible for parole;
( * * *
g) Offenses specifically prohibiting
parole release. No person shall be eligible for parole who is
convicted * * * of any offense that
specifically prohibits parole release;
( * * *
h) (i) * * * Offenders
eligible for parole consideration for offenses committed after June 30, 1995.
Except as provided in paragraphs (a) through (g) of this subsection, offenders
may be considered eligible for parole release as follows:
1. Nonviolent crimes. All persons sentenced for a nonviolent offense shall be eligible for parole only after they have served twenty-five percent (25%) or ten (10) years, whichever is less, of the sentence or sentences imposed by the trial court. For purposes of this paragraph, "nonviolent crime" means a felony not designated as a crime of violence in Section 97-3-2.
2. Violent crimes. A person who is sentenced for a violent offense as defined in Section 97-3-2, except robbery with a deadly weapon as defined in Section 97-3-79, drive-by shooting as defined in Section 97-3-109, and carjacking as defined in Section 97-3-117, shall be eligible for parole only after having served fifty percent (50%) or twenty (20) years, whichever is less, of the sentence or sentences imposed by the trial court. Those persons sentenced for robbery with a deadly weapon as defined in Section 97-3-79, drive-by shooting as defined in Section 97-3-109, and carjacking as defined in Section 97-3-117, shall be eligible for parole only after having served sixty percent (60%) or twenty-five (25) years, whichever is less, of the sentence or sentences imposed by the trial court.
3. Nonviolent and nonhabitual drug offenses. A person who has been sentenced to a drug offense pursuant to Section 41-29-139(a) through (d), whose crime was committed after June 30, 1995, shall be eligible for parole only after he has served twenty-five percent (25%) or ten (10) years, whichever is less, of the sentence or sentences imposed.
(ii) Parole hearing required. All persons eligible for parole under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph (h) who are serving a sentence or sentences for a crime of violence, as defined in Section 97-3-2, shall be required to have a parole hearing before the Parole Board pursuant to Section 47-7-17, prior to parole release.
( * * *
iii) Geriatric parole.
Notwithstanding the provisions in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph ( * * * h), a person serving a sentence who has
reached the age of sixty (60) or older and who has served no less than ten (10)
years of the sentence or sentences imposed by the trial court shall be eligible
for parole. Any person eligible for parole under this * * * subparagraph (iii) shall be
required to have a parole hearing before the board prior to parole release. No
inmate shall be eligible for parole under this subparagraph ( * * * iii) of this paragraph ( * * * h) if:
1. The inmate is sentenced as a habitual offender under Sections 99-19-81 through 99-19-87;
2. The inmate is sentenced for a crime of violence under Section 97-3-2;
3. The inmate is sentenced for an offense that specifically prohibits parole release;
4. The inmate is sentenced for trafficking in controlled substances under Section 41-29-139(f);
5. The inmate is sentenced for a sex crime; or
6. The inmate has not served one-fourth (1/4) of the sentence imposed by the court.
( * * *
iv) Parole consideration as
authorized by the trial court. Notwithstanding the provisions of
paragraph (a) of this subsection, any offender who has not committed a crime of
violence under Section 97-3-2 and has served twenty-five percent (25%) or more
of his sentence may be paroled by the State Parole Board if, after the sentencing
judge or if the sentencing judge is retired, disabled or incapacitated, the
senior circuit judge authorizes the offender to be eligible for parole
consideration; or if the senior circuit judge must be recused, another circuit
judge of the same district or a senior status judge may hear and decide the
matter * * * .
A petition for parole eligibility consideration pursuant to this subparagraph (iv)
shall be filed in the original criminal cause or causes, and the offender shall
serve an executed copy of the petition on the District Attorney. The court may,
in its discretion, require the District Attorney to respond to the petition.
* * *
( * * *
2) The State Parole Board shall, by
rules and regulations, establish a method of determining a tentative parole
hearing date for each eligible offender taken into the custody of the
Department of Corrections. The tentative parole hearing date shall be
determined within ninety (90) days after the department has assumed custody of
the offender. Except as provided in Section 47-7-18, the parole hearing
date shall occur when the offender is within thirty (30) days of the month of his
parole eligibility date. * * * The parole eligibility date shall not be earlier than one‑fourth
(1/4) of the prison sentence or sentences imposed by the court. Any
parole eligibility date shall not be earlier than as required in this section.
( * * *
3) Notwithstanding any other provision
of law, an inmate shall not be eligible to receive earned time, good time or
any other administrative reduction of time which shall reduce the time
necessary to be served for parole eligibility as provided in subsection (1) of
(4) Any inmate within * * *
months of his parole eligibility date and who meets the criteria established by
the classification board shall receive priority for placement in any
educational development and job-training programs that are part of his or
her parole case plan. Any inmate refusing to participate in an educational
development or job-training program * * * ,
including, but not limited to, programs required as part of the case plan,
shall be in jeopardy of noncompliance with the case plan and may be denied
(5) In addition to other requirements, if an offender is convicted of a drug or driving under the influence felony, the offender must complete a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program prior to parole, or the offender shall be required to complete a postrelease drug and alcohol program as a condition of parole.
(6) Except as provided in subsection (1)(a) through (h) of this section, all other persons shall be eligible for parole after serving twenty-five percent (25%) of the sentence or sentences imposed by the trial court, or, if sentenced to thirty (30) years or more, after serving ten (10) years of the sentence or sentences imposed by the trial court.
(7) The Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force established in Section 47-5-6 shall develop and submit recommendations to the Governor and to the Legislature annually on or before December 1st concerning issues relating to juvenile and habitual offender parole reform and to review and monitor the implementation of Senate Bill No. 2795, 2021 Regular Session.
(8) The amendments contained in this act shall apply retroactively from and after July 1, 1995.
(9) Notwithstanding provisions to the contrary in this section, a person who was sentenced before the effective date of this act may be considered for parole if the person's sentence would have been parole eligible before the date on which this act becomes effective.
(10) This section shall stand repealed on July 1, 2024.
SECTION 3. Section 47-7-3.1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
47-7-3.1. (1) In consultation with the Parole Board, the department shall develop a case plan for all parole-eligible inmates to guide an inmate's rehabilitation while in the department's custody and to reduce the likelihood of recidivism after release.
(2) * * *
The case plan * * * shall include, but not be
(a) Programming and treatment requirements based on the results of a risk and needs assessment;
(b) Any programming or treatment requirements contained in the sentencing order; and
(c) General behavior requirements in accordance with the rules and policies of the department.
(3) With respect to parole-eligible inmates admitted to the department's custody on or after July 1, 2021, the department shall complete the case plan within ninety (90) days of admission. With respect to parole-eligible inmates admitted to the department's custody before July 1, 2021, the department shall complete the case plan by January 1, 2022.
( * * *
4) The department shall provide the inmate
with a written copy of the case plan and the inmate's caseworker shall explain
the conditions set forth in the case plan.
(a) Within ninety (90) days of admission, the caseworker shall notify the inmate of their parole eligibility date as calculated in accordance with Section 47-7-3(3);
(b) At the time a parole-eligible inmate receives the case plan, the department shall send the case plan to the Parole Board for approval.
( * * *
5) With respect to parole-eligible
inmates admitted to the department's custody after July 1, 2021, the department
shall ensure that the case plan is achievable prior to the inmate's parole
eligibility date. With respect to parole-eligible inmates admitted to the
department's custody before July 1, 2021, the department shall, to the extent
possible, ensure that the case plan is achievable prior to the inmate's parole eligibility
date or next parole hearing date, or date of release, whichever is sooner.
( * * *
6) The caseworker shall meet with the
inmate every eight (8) weeks from the date the offender received the case plan
to review the inmate's case plan progress.
( * * *
7) Every four (4) months the
department shall electronically submit a progress report on each parole-eligible
inmate's case plan to the Parole Board. The board may meet to review an inmate's
case plan and may provide written input to the caseworker on the inmate's
progress toward completion of the case plan.
( * * *
8) The Parole Board shall provide semiannually
to the Oversight Task Force the number of parole hearings held, the number of prisoners
released to parole without a hearing and the number of parolees released after
(9) If the Department of Corrections fails to adequately provide opportunity and access for the completion of such case plans, the Department of Corrections shall, to the extent possible, contract with regional jail facilities that offer educational development and job-training programs to facilitate the fulfillment of the case plans of parole-eligible inmates.
SECTION 4. Section 47-7-3.2, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
(1) Notwithstanding * * *
Section 47-5-138, 47-5-139, 47-5-138.1 or 47-5-142,
no person convicted of a criminal offense on or after July 1, 2014, shall be
released by the department until he or she has served no less than * * * the percentage of the
sentence or sentences imposed by the court as set forth below:
(a) Twenty-five percent (25%) or ten (10) years, whichever is less, for a nonviolent crime;
(b) Fifty percent (50%) or twenty (20) years, whichever is less, for a crime of violence pursuant to Section 97-3-2, except for robbery with a deadly weapon as defined in Section 97-3-79, drive-by shooting as defined in Section 97-3-109, or carjacking as defined in Section 97-3-117;
(c) Sixty percent (60%) or twenty-five (25) years, whichever is less, for robbery with a deadly weapon as defined in Section 97-3-79, drive-by shooting as defined in Section 97-3-109, or carjacking as defined in Section 97-3-117.
(2) This section shall not apply to:
(a) Offenders sentenced to life imprisonment;
(b) Offenders convicted as habitual offenders pursuant to Sections 99-19-81 through 99-19-87;
(c) Offenders serving a sentence for a sex offense; or
(d) Offenders serving a sentence for trafficking pursuant to Section 41-29-139(f).
SECTION 5. Section 47-7-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
47-7-5. (1) The State Parole Board, created under former Section 47-7-5, is hereby created, continued and reconstituted and shall be composed of five (5) members. The Governor shall appoint the members with the advice and consent of the Senate. All terms shall be at the will and pleasure of the Governor. Any vacancy shall be filled by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor shall appoint a chairman of the board.
(2) Any person who is appointed
to serve on the board shall possess at least a bachelor's degree or a high
school diploma and four (4) years' work experience. Each member shall devote
his full time to the duties of his office and shall not engage in any other business
or profession or hold any other public office. A member shall * * *
receive compensation or per diem in
addition to his salary * * * . Each member shall
keep such hours and workdays as required of full-time state employees under Section
25-1-98. Individuals shall be appointed to serve on the board without reference
to their political affiliations. Each board member, including the chairman,
may be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses as authorized by Section 25-3-41.
Each member of the board shall complete annual training developed based on
guidance from the National Institute of Corrections, the Association of
Paroling Authorities International, or the American Probation and Parole
Association. Each first-time appointee of the board shall, within sixty (60) days
of appointment, or as soon as practical, complete training for first-time
Parole Board members developed in consideration of information from the National
Institute of Corrections, the Association of Paroling Authorities International,
or the American Probation and Parole Association.
(3) The board shall have exclusive responsibility for the granting of parole as provided by Sections 47-7-3 and 47-7-17 and shall have exclusive authority for revocation of the same. The board shall have exclusive responsibility for investigating clemency recommendations upon request of the Governor.
(4) The board, its members and staff, shall be immune from civil liability for any official acts taken in good faith and in exercise of the board's legitimate governmental authority.
(5) The budget of the board shall be funded through a separate line item within the general appropriation bill for the support and maintenance of the department. Employees of the department which are employed by or assigned to the board shall work under the guidance and supervision of the board. There shall be an executive secretary to the board who shall be responsible for all administrative and general accounting duties related to the board. The executive secretary shall keep and preserve all records and papers pertaining to the board.
(6) The board shall have no authority or responsibility for supervision of offenders granted a release for any reason, including, but not limited to, probation, parole or executive clemency or other offenders requiring the same through interstate compact agreements. The supervision shall be provided exclusively by the staff of the Division of Community Corrections of the department.
(7) (a) The Parole Board is authorized to select and place offenders in an electronic monitoring program under the conditions and criteria imposed by the Parole Board. The conditions, restrictions and requirements of Section 47-7-17 and Sections 47-5-1001 through 47-5-1015 shall apply to the Parole Board and any offender placed in an electronic monitoring program by the Parole Board.
(b) Any offender placed in an electronic monitoring program under this subsection shall pay the program fee provided in Section 47-5-1013. The program fees shall be deposited in the special fund created in Section 47-5-1007.
(c) The department shall have absolute immunity from liability for any injury resulting from a determination by the Parole Board that an offender be placed in an electronic monitoring program.
(8) (a) The Parole Board shall maintain a central registry of paroled inmates. The Parole Board shall place the following information on the registry: name, address, photograph, crime for which paroled, the date of the end of parole or flat-time date and other information deemed necessary. The Parole Board shall immediately remove information on a parolee at the end of his parole or flat-time date.
(b) When a person is placed on parole, the Parole Board shall inform the parolee of the duty to report to the parole officer any change in address ten (10) days before changing address.
(c) The Parole Board shall utilize an internet website or other electronic means to release or publish the information.
(d) Records maintained on the registry shall be open to law enforcement agencies and the public and shall be available no later than July 1, 2003.
(9) An affirmative vote of at least four (4) members of the Parole Board shall be required to grant parole to an inmate convicted of capital murder or a sex crime.
(10) This section shall stand repealed on July 1, 2022.
SECTION 6. Section 47-7-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
47-7-15. The board shall adopt an official seal of which the courts shall take judicial notice. Decisions of the board shall be made by majority vote, except as provided in Section 47-7-5(9).
The board shall keep a record of its acts and shall notify each institution of its decisions relating to the persons who are or have been confined therein. At the close of each fiscal year the board shall submit to the Governor and to the Legislature a report with statistical and other data of its work.
SECTION 7. Section 47-7-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
47-7-17. (1) Within one (1) year after his admission and at such intervals thereafter as it may determine, the board shall secure and consider all pertinent information regarding each offender, except any under sentence of death or otherwise ineligible for parole, including the circumstances of his offense, his previous social history, his previous criminal record, including any records of law enforcement agencies or of a youth court regarding that offender's juvenile criminal history, his conduct, employment and attitude while in the custody of the department, the case plan created to prepare the offender for parole, and the reports of such physical and mental examinations as have been made. The board shall furnish at least three (3) months' written notice to each such offender of the date on which he is eligible for parole.
* * *
(2) Except as provided in Section 47-7-18, the
board * * * shall
require a parole-eligible offender to have a hearing as required in this chapter
before the board and to be interviewed. The hearing shall be held no later
than thirty (30) days prior to the month of eligibility. No application for
parole of a person convicted of a capital offense shall be considered by the
board unless and until notice of the filing of such application shall have been
published at least once a week for two (2) weeks in a newspaper published in or
having general circulation in the county in which the crime was committed. The
board shall, within thirty (30) days prior to the scheduled hearing, also give
notice of the filing of the application for parole to the victim of the offense
for which the prisoner is incarcerated and being considered for parole or, in
case the offense be homicide, a designee of the immediate family of the victim,
provided the victim or designated family member has furnished in writing a
current address to the board for such purpose. The victim or designated
family member shall be provided an opportunity to be heard by the board before the
board makes a decision regarding release on parole. The board shall consider
whether any restitution ordered has been paid in full. Parole release
shall, at the hearing, be ordered only for the best interest of society, not as
an award of clemency; it shall not be considered to be a reduction of sentence or
pardon. An offender shall be placed on parole only when arrangements have been
made for his proper employment or for his maintenance and care, and when the
board believes that he is able and willing to fulfill the obligations of a law-abiding
citizen. When the board determines that the offender will need transitional
housing upon release in order to improve the likelihood of * * * the offender becoming a law-abiding
citizen, the board may parole the offender with the condition that the inmate spends
no more than six (6) months in a transitional reentry center. At least fifteen
(15) days prior to the release of an offender on parole, the director of
records of the department shall give the written notice which is required
pursuant to Section 47-5-177. Every offender while on parole shall remain in
the legal custody of the department from which he was released and shall be
amenable to the orders of the board. Upon determination by the board that an offender
is eligible for release by parole, notice shall also be given within at least
fifteen (15) days before release, by the board to the victim of the offense or
the victim's family member, as indicated above, regarding the date when the offender's
release shall occur, provided a current address of the victim or the victim's
family member has been furnished in writing to the board for such purpose.
(3) Failure to provide notice to the victim or the victim's family member of the filing of the application for parole or of any decision made by the board regarding parole shall not
constitute grounds for vacating an otherwise lawful parole determination nor shall it create any right or liability, civilly or criminally, against the board or any member thereof.
(4) A letter of protest against granting an offender parole shall not be treated as the conclusive and only reason for not granting parole.
(5) The board may adopt such other rules not inconsistent with law as it may deem proper or necessary with respect to the eligibility of offenders for parole, the conduct of parole hearings, or conditions to be imposed upon parolees, including a condition that the parolee submit, as provided in Section 47-5-601 to any type of breath, saliva or urine chemical analysis test, the purpose of which is to detect the possible presence of alcohol or a substance prohibited or controlled by any law of the State of Mississippi or the United States. The board shall have the authority to adopt rules related to the placement of certain offenders on unsupervised parole and for the operation of transitional reentry centers. However, in no case shall an offender be placed on unsupervised parole before he has served a minimum of fifty percent (50%) of the period of supervised parole.
SECTION 8. Section 47-7-18, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
47-7-18 (1) * * *
No inmate convicted of a sex offense
as defined by Section 45-33-23(h), a crime of violence as defined by Section 97-3-2,
or both, nor an inmate who is eligible for geriatric parole shall be released
on parole without a hearing before the Parole Board as required by Section 47-7-17.
All other inmates eligible for parole pursuant to Section 47-7-3 * * * shall be released from incarceration to parole
supervision on the inmate's parole eligibility date, without a hearing before
the board, if:
(a) The inmate has met the requirements of the parole case plan established pursuant to Section 47-7-3.1;
(b) A victim of the offense has not requested the board conduct a hearing;
(c) The inmate has not received a serious or major violation report within the past six (6) months;
(d) The inmate has agreed to the conditions of supervision; and
(e) The inmate has a discharge plan approved by the board.
(2) At least thirty (30) days prior to an inmate's parole eligibility date, the department shall notify the board in writing of the inmate's compliance or noncompliance with the case plan. If an inmate fails to meet a requirement of the case plan, prior to the parole eligibility date, he or she shall have a hearing before the board to determine if completion of the case plan can occur while in the community.
(3) Any inmate for whom there is insufficient information for the department to determine compliance with the case plan shall have a hearing with the board.
(4) A hearing shall be held with the board if requested by the victim following notification of the inmate's parole release date pursuant to Section 47-7-17.
(5) A hearing shall be held by the board if a law enforcement official from the community to which the inmate will return contacts the board or the department and requests a hearing to consider information relevant to public safety risks posed by the inmate if paroled at the initial parole eligibility date. The law enforcement official shall submit an explanation documenting these concerns for the board to consider.
(6) If a parole hearing is held, the board may determine the inmate has sufficiently complied with the case plan or that the incomplete case plan is not the fault of the inmate and that granting parole is not incompatible with public safety, the board may then parole the inmate with appropriate conditions. If the board determines that the inmate has sufficiently complied with the case plan but the discharge plan indicates that the inmate does not have appropriate housing immediately upon release, the board may parole the inmate to a transitional reentry center with the condition that the inmate spends no more than six (6) months in the center. If the board determines that the inmate has not substantively complied with the requirement(s) of the case plan it may deny parole. If the board denies parole, the board may schedule a subsequent parole hearing and, if a new date is scheduled, the board shall identify the corrective action the inmate will need to take in order to be granted parole. Any inmate not released at the time of the inmate's initial parole date shall have a parole hearing at least every year.
SECTION 9. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2021.