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April 12, 2022

New Legislation Expands Work Release Pilot Program

Mary Apel

Gov. Tate Reeves signs a bill into law that guarantees first responders who die of Covid contracted on the job will receive line of duty benefits.

Governor Tate Reeves announced yesterday the signing of House Bill 586 which expands an existing pilot program that allows for non-violent inmates serving the final year of their sentence to take on jobs in their local communities.

“This legislation offers a wonderful opportunity to Mississippians who are seeking a second chance at life. Dignified work has the potential to offer new beginnings and I am proud to sign this legislation helping these incarcerated individuals reenter society and develop new skills and experiences that will allow them to rejoin their communities more smoothly,” said Governor Tate Reeves.

The legislation allows for 25 individuals at a time, who are serving the final year of their sentence, to take work opportunities outside of their respective prison facilities. This opportunity will better assist individuals as they begin reintegrating back into life in the community.

The pilot program was first launched in 2021 in Rankin County. Local businesses that agree to employ inmates within their respective counties can provide jobs to currently incarcerated individuals.

The new legislation expands this pilot program to Harrison and Lee County. The legislation bars individuals convicted of crimes of violence from participation in the program. The program is entirely voluntary for the inmates and allows the sheriff the final discretion to determine which individuals participate.

The legislation requires inmates to maintain an account with a financial institution. Up to 25% of the funds gained from the employment help to pay off existing fines, restitution, and fees and to pay support of dependents. The inmate has access to his account to pay incidental expenses. Upon release, the inmate has full access to this bank account, which helps him or her lay a foundation for community integration.

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