'Spoiled' Criminal Justice Reform Bill Dies After Governor's Veto
JACKSON — Individuals would not be locked up for being financially unable to pay fines, and nonviolent offenders could get parole sooner under a bipartisan bill both the House and the Senate unanimously passed this session.
But, Gov. Phil Bryant vetoed it.
Bryant objected to the language allowing a person with three felony or federal crime convictions, called "habitual offenders" in state law, to be eligible for parole after serving 25 percent of their sentence—as long as they have not been convicted of a crime of violence or sex crime or other specific crimes that prohibit parole. The governor said the last-minute change "spoiled" the bill's good intentions.
In his statement, the governor said he received information from Senate Judiciary A Chairman Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, and House Judiciary B Chairman Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, which "indicated that this change in the bill was made by mistake."
Tindell confirmed with the Jackson Free Press that the last-minute change was likely a result of a miscommunication that happened during conference weekend. He said the language of the bill should have excluded all "habitual offenders" from the 25-percent parole-eligibility role.