March 31, 2014, in Mississippi criminal law – Byrom gets new trial; Gov. signs reform bill

The Mississippi Supreme Court grants Michelle Byrom a new trial with a new judge.  Here’s hoping she gets competent counsel.  The most comprehensive discussion of the issues has taken place at Tom Freeland’s blog

The Governor signed the criminal justice reform bill.   If you are like me, you’ve been inundated with calls about it every time anyone voted on it.   Including straw votes taken at legislative poker games. Which means  I’ve spent three months giving mini-tutorials on the subject that everyone my age learned watching Saturday morning cartoons.  (Remember “It’s only a bill?”).   Namely that the mere fact some group of people passed it does not mean that it is law – YET.  Anyway, guess it is time to read it.  

One of the changes is that persons serving time for crimes of violence will be eligible for parole after serving 50% of their time. (located at the bottom of page 97)

Pursuant to Section 97-3-2, Mississippi Code of 1972:
(1) The following shall be classified as crimes of violence:
(a) Driving under the influence as provided in Sections 63-11-30(5) and 63-11-30(12)(d);
(b) Murder and attempted murder as provided in Sections 97-1-7(2), 97-3-19, 97-3-23 and 97-3-25;
(c) Aggravated assault as provided in Sections 97-3-7(2)(a) and (b) and 97-3-7(4)(a);
(d) Manslaughter as provided in Sections 97-3-27, 97-3-29, 97-3-31, 97-3-33, 97-3-35, 97-3-39, 97-3-41, 97-3-43, 97-3-45 and 97-3-47;
(e) Killing of an unborn child as provided in Sections 97-3-37(2)(a) and 97-3-37(2)(b);
(f) Kidnapping as provided in Section 97-3-53;
(g) Human trafficking as provided in Section 97-3-54.1;
(h) Poisoning as provided in Section 97-3-61;
(i) Rape as provided in Sections 97-3-65 and 97-3-71;
(j) Robbery as provided in Sections 97-3-73 and 97-3-79;
(k) Sexual battery as provided in Section 97-3-95;
(l) Drive-by shooting or bombing as provided in Section 97-3-109;
(m) Carjacking as provided in Section 97-3-117;
(n) Felonious neglect, abuse or battery of a child as provided in Section 97-5-39;
(o) Burglary of a dwelling as provided in Sections 2425 97-17-23 and 97-17-37;
(p) Use of explosives or weapons of mass destruction as provided in Section 97-37-25;
(q) Statutory rape as provided in Section 97-3-65(1), but this classification is rebuttable on hearing by a judge;
(r) Exploitation of a child as provided in Section 97-5-33;
(s) Gratification of lust as provided in Section 97-5-23; and
(t) Shooting into a dwelling as provided in Section 97-37-29.
(2) In any felony offense with a maximum sentence of no less than five (5) years, upon conviction, the judge may find and place in the sentencing order, on the record in open court, that the
offense, while not listed in subsection (1) of this section, shall be classified as a crime of violence if the facts show that the defendant used physical force, or made a credible attempt or
threat of physical force against another person as part of the criminal act. No person convicted of a crime of violence listed in this section is eligible for parole or for early release from the custody of the Department of Corrections until the person has served at least fifty percent (50%) of the sentence imposed by the court.

Section 47-7-3 is amended to allow “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 not less than one-fourth (1/4) of the total of such term or terms for which such prisoner was sentenced, or, if sentenced to serve a term or terms of thirty (30) years or more, or, if sentenced for the term of the natural life of such prisoner, has served not less than ten (10) years of such life sentence, may be released on parole as hereinafter provided, except that: . . . . ”

Persons sentenced to life without parole are not eligible for parole. However, 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.

And an interesting article on shaken baby syndrome from Seattle Met.

12 thoughts on “March 31, 2014, in Mississippi criminal law – Byrom gets new trial; Gov. signs reform bill

  1. If my husband was sentenced to 12 yrs for simple robbery and is a habitual offender but has done 11 yrs of the 12 does any of this apply to him ?

    • It appears that the new parole laws do not apply to persons sentenced to a term without parole as an habitual. But this bill is very long and I hesitate to give an opinion before having read the whole thing (which, honestly, is never going to happen). At any rate: Sect. 47-7-3(1)(a) states that “No prisoner convicted as a confirmed and habitual criminal under the provisions of Sections 99-19-81 through 99-19-87 shall be eligible for parole . . . .”

  2. What is possibly the reason that bill 585 excludes possibility of parole for violent crime convictions between 1994 and July 2014?….makes no sense….Maybe I am misreading it

  3. So does this mean if you have a person that was charged with a sex crime and he received 20 years, and has to serve day to day. He had served almost 5 years. Would this new law apply to his early release?

  4. Its highly a unfair an unjust decision to exclude convicted felons throughout 1994-2014.. If a person committed a crime durin that time span, they should have d same rules applied to them.. I wanna know why is the law excluding that set of particular convicts??..

    • Where is it that you have found this info. i have followed this and have thought it was passed to relieve the over crowding of the prisons. if wat you say is true it will not serve its intended purpose

  5. Apparently there are very few provisions in the new law that would affect persons sentenced prior to its effective date of July 1, 2014. Not sure how this is supposed to save any money in the short term.

  6. It helps only new criminals, state taking inmates already there before july 2014 and making them stay longer and if commit crime after july 2014 you get a slap on the wrist, that makes the numbers for mdoc not go up but still collecting money because they arent letting the others out. All of a sudden they decided to change inmates Custody level and taking away parole date. Thats not fair. All the inmates made a mistake they deserve to have another chance on the outside, if they didnt hurt anyone. We need to help inmates not just put them there and nit try to help them.

  7. My brother was sentenced to prison for 10 years last year July 23, 2014 for sexual battery under 97-3-95 (person of authority) – am I reading this correctly to understand that after he serves 50% of his time he will be eligible for parole?

  8. Is there any litigation addressing this issue for people who committed a crime of violence before 2014 wasting away in prison, only to see people who committed the same crime and sentenced after 2014 coming in and being paroled even before the people who were sentenced prior to 2014 for the same crime still confined and languishing away in prison. This seems to be a huge injustice. Is there any actions that I can get involved with to participate in moving this issue further???

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