Article Comment 

78 felons may soon hit county streets




The Mississippi Department of Corrections is either releasing or considering the release of 78 felons into Lowndes County this month. 


"There hasn''t ever been anything like this," said Lowndes County District Attorney Forrest Allgood. "I think it''s awful. The economy is not good. Most of these people are not going to come out to jobs. At least half of these people were convicted of selling dope and I rather expect that is the occupation they are going back to." 


According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, as of this morning 24 inmates have been approved for parole and another 14 are nearing the end of their sentencing. An additional 40 inmates are being considered for parole. 


According to Allgood the average number of inmates released in a given month is between eight and 12. 


"I think it''s crazy," said Lowndes County Sheriff Butch Howard. "There''s some of them on that list that haven''t been in there but just a few months. I really believe this just goes against what we''re trying to do." 


Local law enforcement found out about the high number of potential parolees after receiving a stack of Community Attitude Surveys from MDOC. The surveys are meant to provide feedback from law enforcement about each individual being considered for early release. 


"The surveys are supposed to go to the judge, the sheriff and the district attorney," said Allgood. "Probably as many times as not when the surveys do come they''ve already released the people the survey is referencing." 


The high number of inmates being considered for early release is the result of Senate Bill 2136 which was passed in 2008. The legislation calls for the possibility of the early release of some non-violent offenders, which often includes people convicted of dealing drugs. About half of those on the list of potential parolees have been convicted of drug related crimes. 


"This is a function of the state of Mississippi functionally ditching the 85-percent provisions," said Allgood. "Most of these people would still be in jail had that statute not been modified." 


While Howard understands keeping people in prison costs money, he fears those who make the laws may be missing the forest for the trees. 


"They are trying to relieve overcrowding and they are definitely under a budget crunch like everyone else," he said. "But at some time you have to figure out what''s more important: dollars and cents or public safety." 


Allgood believes Lowndes County is heading back to a time when the local criminal justice system amounted to a revolving door of repeat offending. 


"In the ''80s and early ''90s the grand jury would look at 600 cases and return 400 indictments four times a year," he said. "In the last three years there have been only two occasions when the grand jury has returned 200 indictments. What we were doing was working." 


"It''s not just Lowndes County, it''s statewide," said Howard. "We''re going to try to take whatever avenues we can to get the parole board to take a harder look at these people. I know we can''t keep building prisons, but as crime increases we have to do something." 


A representative from the Mississippi Parole Board could not be reached by press time. 


A frustrated Allgood said the average person really has only one course of action if he is concerned about the high number of inmate releases. 


"John Citizen doesn''t have anything he can do to change the laws in Mississippi other than picking up the phone and calling his legislator and saying, ''This is ludicrous and we want the law to change,''" he said.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment bossdawg commented at 4/1/2009 1:23:00 PM:

Early "outs" for non-violent prisoners is intended to save the state the cost of housing prisoners. Statistics show that at least 70% of early releases go right back to prison. That is an extra cost to the taxpayer for having to pay for prosecuting that inmate again and then having to house them anyway. Not to mention the extra cost and man hours of the police departments to keep up with the extra criminal activity that is sure to follow this latest round of releases. I don't think our lawmakers thought this one through. The legislators must have pushed this through late on a Friday evening.


Article Comment J.r commented at 4/1/2009 3:17:00 PM:

I think it is good they release them as long as they give them random drug tests i do believe they give drug dealers more time than they should have


Article Comment A Concerned Cynizen commented at 4/1/2009 3:30:00 PM:

I think what our lawmakers haven't thought through is the consequences of making a lot of nonviolent offenses--drug offenses especially--so profitable for law enforcement and prison contractors. When the only thing wrong with using a substance is that it is illegal, then it's time to re-examine the "why" of that legislation. The U.S. houses 25% of the world's prison population, mostly because we punish people with ridiculous sentences for arbitrary "crimes." Haynes and West (the discredited medical examiner and forensic dentist used by the Mississippi Justice System for years) made up evidence to pad their paychecks, stealing countless years from the citizens of multiple states. I seem to recall Mr. Allgood's name in connection with at least one bogus murder conviction based on their testimony. Oops. You spent years on death row. Our bad. Mabe if we didn't saddle non-violent offenders with felonies, they could find honest employment when they served a reasonable sentence. Instead, we lump them in with people who commit honest-to-god felonies and leave them so marginalized that their return to prison is made more likely rather than less. Oh, but don't let's allow people to pay their debt and start with a clean slate. Noooo, that's crazy talk Butch Howard. Crazy!


Article Comment Jean commented at 4/1/2009 6:46:00 PM:

The "times" don't match the "crimes".
WHO decides what is "VIOLENT"?
HOW did drugs become a VIOLENT crime?
To me, violence is anything done to another person AGAINST THEIR WILL.
(murder, rape, robbery, assault, breaking & entering, stealing, etc)
WHY is "The SYSTEM" more harsh on drug charges than they are on, for example, a MURDER charges?
People buy & do drugs BECAUSE THEY WANT to... people don't get killed, robbed, assaulted, etc BECAUSE THEY WANT to.
It must be all about $$$$ just like everything else in todays society.
As for freeing these "non-violent" inmates. Everybody is not the same. There are some who will start job hunting the day they set foot on the streets but "THE SYSTEM" is SO HUNG UP on their background that they will refuse to hire them. That previous inmate just may be the one who will come to work everyday, ON TIME and become your most dependable employee.
To some people, FREEDOM means a lot and if they have lost it once, they WILL do better if given another chance. You can get 100 apples of the SAME tree. Sure they may all be red but they are each individual apples. One bad apple DOES NOT have to spoil the whole bunch.
Thank you for your attention and before you finish reading this, make sure you get a GOOOOOD understanding. BY NO MEANS am I taking up for nor defending drug dealers.
I just don't see that as a VIOLENT crime.


Article Comment v.harris commented at 4/1/2009 7:52:00 PM:

i dont think they should just let out drug dealers.there are people in there who didnt commit a crime but was framed.i think they deserve to have to stay.i know someone who has been there for 20 years and his family cant afford the lawyer that can prove him innocent.he is a kind person and enjoying helping others so why should just drug dealers be the ones to get out.


Article Comment v.harris commented at 4/1/2009 7:58:00 PM:

where i stated they deserve to stay i was refering to the drug dealers.its not fair to treat the drug dealers special cause what they do could kill people so why release them.go down through the whole system and give everybody a chance.


Article Comment Positive community action commented at 4/1/2009 8:56:00 PM:

Seems to me that instead of further marginalizing these offenders and essentially damning them to re-incarceration, this is a perfect opportunity for concerned community members to come together through community organizations to provide adequate support during the transition process. Maybe instead of the dooms-day attitudes of Allgood and Howard, something positive can happen.


Article Comment Fred commented at 4/2/2009 8:54:00 AM:

Why don't they just make them take jobs with the county/city and give random drug tests. There is lots of stuff they can do. I'd rather do that than pay taxes just for them to sit around all day being fed on the taxpayers dime.


Article Comment Kimberly commented at 4/2/2009 9:21:00 AM:

Guess its time for the hardworking people in the area to get concealed weapons permits! Its sad that our state taxes us to the point of barely making it each week but they will put some no good loser back out on the streets to harm our children and loved ones.
I don't understand why people who are suppose to protect the good people of this state only seem to look out for the $.


Article Comment Tammy commented at 4/2/2009 2:35:00 PM:

I donot think nothing is wrong with people getting out for non violent crimes. Regardless if they get out now or whenever jobs are still hard to find. You will never get drugs and killers off the streets. It would be nice if you could just look at the court docket and see. So none of us are perfect we all make mistakes even those in authority. There are some that are getting out that wants to make a difference. Who are you to judge?


Article Comment Tondra Gore commented at 4/2/2009 3:04:00 PM:

Well people we dont make the rules, the legislature does and what they decide we've got to live with it. A lot of us dont like to see this happening but hey life's unfair too. There is no guarantee that when they get out, 99 out of 100% a few of the 78 will repeat a crime and go right back to cost us taxpayers extra funds. So we've got to live with it like everything else. Yes crime is already up, but most of the parolees will not get into trouble once they get out and see what the world is about since they've locked up for a long time.


Article Comment legalizeit commented at 4/2/2009 7:45:00 PM:

Instead of fearing the unknown, research the laws and why they were passed in the first place.Educate yourselves before you condemn these people to life in prison.
Instead of locking up the small time non violent offenders we should decimalize drugs, regulate the sale and tax it. Problem solved!
No we criminalize a herb, a God given plant. Spend billions, destroy lives and families...all so the rich can get richer.


Article Comment legalizeit commented at 4/2/2009 8:51:00 PM:

Instead of fearing the unknown, research the laws and why they were passed in the first place.Educate yourselves before you condemn these people to life in prison.
Instead of locking up the small time non violent offenders we should decimalize drugs, regulate the sale and tax it. Problem solved!
No we criminalize a herb, a God given plant. Spend billions, destroy lives and families...all so the rich can get richer.


Article Comment commonsense commented at 4/2/2009 10:42:00 PM:

According to Senator Jim Webb, "America imprisons 756 inmates per 100,000 residents,
a rate nearly five times the world's average.
About one in every 31 adults in this country is in jail
or on supervised release. Either we are the most evil people
on earth or we are doing something very wrong." I agree


Article Comment Will commented at 4/2/2009 11:35:00 PM:

Retro 2005...personal story for me. Family member of mine gets involved with wrong people via wife. Result: manufacturing drug charge(for personal use)Guilty? YES ...but the sentence for his FIRST offense: 15 years...that's right..15 years! ..with no prior history of arrests. To me, that is WAAAYYY to much time for a first offense. No wonder the jails are full. Was his crime serious? The answer is YES....but 15 years! I've seen and heard of MURDER cases that get less time than that. I could see a five year sentence for that crime...serve two or three and get out on good behavior. Screw up again, THEN throw the book at them. C'mon Forrest Allgood, get your head on straight. Judge and sentence people on an individual basis instead of "painting with YOUR broad brush!" Again, no wonder the jails are full...half of them don't REALLY belong there!


Article Comment Jeff commented at 4/3/2009 12:34:00 AM:

Somewhere, we got the impression that if everyone screws up, it must be ok. Well, it's not.....Wrong is wrong, and right is right.

Dope, coke and Meth is killing society by poisoning our people, ruining families (read the Packet), and filling our courts and wasting our tax base and dollars. Why are our schools in poor shape? We spend more money on drug issues, instead on reading, writing and arithmetic.

Imagine all of the time, money and resources that could be devoted to the children of our communities, if we didn't need to quell this drug problem.

Next time you complain about our schools being in poor shape, thank all of the people involved with drugs, and the time and money wasted on them,and not spent on our children.


Article Comment Jethrene commented at 4/3/2009 2:45:00 PM:

Hey Why don't we go ahead and set em all free we are all so forgiving. We could make room for all our FAT LAZY Legislators! We are paying them and they don't work, so they sent the message loud and clear. What awesome expectations for our youth to look up to!


Article Comment L.E.O. commented at 4/3/2009 5:07:00 PM:

A 15 year sentence is not really a 15 year sentence. The violator only serves 25% of that sentence and still get time for good behavior. So out of that 15 year sentence he/she is out in about 4. Don't get caught up on the large numbers on sentencing. They don't mean a thing. Legalizing drugs does not solve the problem. It only floods the streets like a tsunami. Drug dealers have been making money hand over fist for years tax free. Do you really think they are going to pay taxes on it if you legalize it? Get real. The only thing you do by legalizing drugs is change what you charge them with. Instead of sale of cocaine it'll be tax evasion.


Article Comment legalizeit commented at 4/3/2009 8:36:00 PM:

L.E.O. you and your lock em bimbos are so wrong! They serve 85% of the sentence. The law that these paroles are given on were passed last April. It is applies to first time nonviolent offenders. 50 years of these draconian laws have not slowed anything on made them worse. Mr Allgood - Lowndes county sends more offenders to prison than all the other counties in Mississippi. You people need to educate yourselves. War on Drugs, War on anything just makes the rich richer. Educate yourselves!!!!Read!


Article Comment L.E.O. commented at 4/4/2009 2:59:00 PM:

Legal you're wrong again man. They changed the 85% to 25% a year ago and made it retroactive. I know what the law is, half the ones I sent to prison are about to be back because of the sentencing changes. That is fact. You're the one who needs educated.


Article Comment Sick-N-Tired commented at 4/6/2009 2:51:00 PM:

Here's a little tidbit of info for you. Non-violent convicted felons already make way into our county on a bi-weekly basis, and have since their conviction. The spa-like treatment that these inmates receive infuriates me as a taxpayer and should you as well. They are granted bi-weekly weekend and holiday passes. They get to pick their own menus (which includes steak on a weekly basis). Each inmate can have their own television and satellite receiver. They are allowed to have whatever personal items they want, with the exception of drugs and weapons. And the list of perks just goes on and on. I know this because I personally know someone enjoying their "vacation" at my expense. My gripe is, make jail a place to learn a lesson! Enough with all the perks! Punish the guilty, don't give them time to chill out and think of more ways to break the law once they are back out on the street! I am sick and tired of inmates having more rights than I do as a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen!!!


Article Comment legalizeit commented at 4/6/2009 5:04:00 PM:

L.E.O. They changed the 85% to 25% a year ago and made it retroactive.
"The law that these paroles are given on were passed last April!!!!!!!!!! Exactly what I said."
Sick-N-Tired Where is this utopia you speak of?


Article Comment L.E.O. commented at 4/6/2009 7:27:00 PM:

Legal, go back and read again. I quote, "you and your lock em up bimbos are so wrong. They serve 85% of the sentence." So, that's not what you said. The fact is, if a defendant gets a 10 year sentence tomorrow, he/she will serve 2.5 years at most and then get good behavior time on top of that. That's pathetic!! The 85% only applies on the second offense (still get good behavior time off) and then you're looking at habitual offender status on the third. People no longer fear being jailed and this is why.


Article Comment mop commented at 4/7/2009 4:08:00 PM:

Sick-N-Tired where on earth did you get that garbage? Must be from another planet.


Article Comment mop commented at 4/7/2009 4:20:00 PM:

It seems to me they could come up with some type of community service for these young non-violent offenders. It is rediculous how many young people are locked up. Yes, they did wrong, make them pay, there are plenty of things they could do beside wasting away in jail next to the thieves, rapist and murderers.


Article Comment wmg commented at 4/7/2009 6:41:00 PM:

Now, sick and tired I do agree with your argument. But the non violent inmates that you are referring to are the ones that have committed white collar crimes. I personally know of a person who has been in isolation for 5 years and he was a non-violent drug offender. He does not come home on weekends, he does not pick his own menu or any of those other privleges you mentioned. Please refer to the Mississippi judiciary system and get the facts before you make your quotes.


Article Comment mop commented at 4/8/2009 4:58:00 PM:

These facilities with the special treatments, for(white collar crimminals), difinently aren't where these people are or have been.


Article Comment S.C.H commented at 3/27/2010 8:39:00 PM:

I think people that have committed a violet crime should have early release,because some people was sentence to prison on a pled bargin. and no trial. Cuprous regeneracy security sheathe halometer airsick verticaltransistor.
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