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New law gives employers in Mississippi more options

A new law passed by the Mississippi legislature aims to give Mississippi employers more options when employing people on community supervision.

Data from the Mississippi Department of Corrections indicates that over 20,000 people in
Mississippi are on some form of community supervision. This includes people on parole,
probation, and house arrest. Most supervision arrangements require individuals to have a
job, which can pose a challenge.

People with a criminal conviction in their past can face hundreds of legal restrictions, many
of which make it tough to find a job. For those on community supervision, the job search
can become even more difficult. Supervision usually requires a monthly check-in with a
parole or probation officer, which can mean time away from work.

This year, the legislature passed SB 2273, which allows employers to submit proof of
employment as a substitute to regular meetings with their parole or probation officer. The
option is voluntary and requires employer participation, so its impacts will be difficult to
estimate. This bill follows another recent change in the law which allows FaceTime
meetings in certain circumstances.

A review of Mississippi’s policies around Community Supervision gave the state a letter
grade of D. The state’s low score is attributable to several factors, including the over-use of
supervision in the state.

Originally created as an alternative to incarceration for lower-risk offenders and a way to
provide additional supervision to higher-risk individuals leaving prison, probation began as
an innovative tool to increase public safety, but has grown to become a common practice
that, when used excessively, can actually undermine public safety. Supervision can be a
helpful tool when needed, not tacked on as a perfunctory addition to every criminal

Recent legislative reforms reflect a growing recognition that these supervision sentences
can impose a hardship on individuals that make it harder to maintain employment. These
reforms are needed, and can be built upon to improve Mississippi’s laws around community
supervision more broadly. Policymakers can learn from reforms in other states which curb
the use of supervision in cases where it’s not needed.

In addition to improving work prospects for people on supervision, reforms can improve
public safety by allowing officers to better supervise their caseloads. Policies that
encourage work and allow for improved supervision can benefit all Mississippians by
reducing recidivism and improving public safety.

You can help provide second chances in Mississippi. Please sign the petition below.

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