In the lead-up to this year's legislative session in Mississippi, supporters of a tougher gang law in the state talked a lot about the need to arrest white people. But in an ironic twist, the Jackson Free Press has learned that everyone arrested under the existing gang law from 2010 through 2017 were African American.
Mississippi law enforcement may soon be able to decide young people are a gang even if they're not part of a larger criminal enterprise with a hierarchy and criminal connections beyond whomever they got the pot from.
Proposed legislation to crack down on gangs statewide could lead to increased prison costs, a move that would counteract the state's progress in decreasing the number of inmates—and taxpayer dollars used to incarcerate those inmates—since 2014.
A very bad "gang bill" has died in the Legislature for the second year in a row. This death occurred after the Senate passed the bill to criminalize gang association and give expanded sentences to associates of gangs or crews or cliques for up to 15 years.
The Mississippi Anti-Gang Act flies in the face of recent legislative efforts to reduce our unsustainable prison population—which is currently the fourth highest per capita in the country.
Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, did not want to debate the "anti-gang" bill for long this morning, and after about half an hour, he tabled House Bill 541, noting that the Senate had already passed its version of the legislation.
Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, called the "Mississippi Anti-Gang Act" one of the most significant pieces of legislation the Legislature could pass in 2018. The bill would make "criminal gang activity" a separate offense from any underlying misdemeanor or felony a person is accused of if prosecutors can prove they are gang members.