U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Consequences of Truth-in-Sentencing: The Mississippi Case

NCJ Number
Punishment & Society Volume: 5 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 139-154
Peter B. Wood; R. Gregory Dunaway
Date Published
April 2003
16 pages
This article examines the effect of truth-in-sentencing (TIS) on correctional populations, patterns of judicial decisionmaking, and the political and economic dynamics of prison construction in rural areas.
Recent trends in crime control policy represent a more punitive approach, with the advent of longer sentences in TIS. This “Get Tough on Crime” movement has resulted in an explosion in correctional populations and budgets. A cornerstone of Mississippi’s crime control initiative has been to enact TIS legislation. Enacted in July 1995, Mississippi’s version is unique in its scope in that it applies an 85 percent rule to all offenders rather than just violent and/or sex offenders. Truth-in-sentencing is meant to describe a close correspondence between the sentence imposed on those sent to prison and the time actually served prior to prison release. Before the passage of TIS, the Mississippi inmate population was projected as increasing from roughly 8,400 in January 1991 to 13,104 by December 2000. The TIS-based projections indicated that the inmate population would increase to over 21,000 by December 2000 and to nearly 32,000 by December 2005. In response to TIS, the court community--judges, prosecutors, and public defenders--has adjusted its sentencing behavior to maintain what is seen as proportionality in punishment in the face of a mandatory sentencing policy passed at the legislative level. There is substantial variation in enforcement of TIS across jurisdictions in Mississippi. Crime rates have fallen since the implementation of TIS, though it remains unclear whether this has much to do with sentencing reform. Sentencing reform has placed heavy financial and administrative burdens on the correctional system. It has also generated speculation on the relationship between reforms and prison crowding. Mississippi is now wrestling with a corrections budget that has become the fastest growing portion of the State budget. Payments to regional and private prisons have grown as the number of inmates in these facilities has risen. As a result, the State has turned to the prison-industrial complex to promote local economic development. 4 tables, 15 references