In Mississippi, provisions relating to pardon and parole are provided under Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-5 through Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-31.
Mississippi State Parole Board
The State Parole Board is composed of five members. Any member of the board must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or a high school diploma and four years’ work experience. Each member shall devote his/her full time to the official and should not engage in any other business or profession or hold any other public office[i]. In addition to the duty of investigating clemency recommendations upon request of the Governor, the board has exclusive responsibility for the granting and revocation of parole. The board and its staff are immune from civil liability for any official acts taken in good faith and in exercise of the board’s legitimate governmental authority[ii]. It is to be noted that the board has no authority for supervision of offenders granted a release including, but not limited to, probation, parole or executive clemency or other offenders requiring the same through interstate compact agreements. The supervision is provided exclusively by the staff of the Division of Community Corrections of the department[iii].
The Parole Board has to maintain a central registry of paroled inmates with details such as name, address, photograph, crime for which s/he was paroled, the date of the end of parole or flat-time date and other information deemed necessary. The Parole Board must immediately remove information on a parolee at the end of his/her parole or flat-time date. When a person is placed on parole, the Parole Board has to inform the parolee of the duty to report to the parole officer any change in address 10 days before changing address. An affirmative vote of at least four members of the board is required to grant parole to an inmate convicted of capital murder or a sex crime. It is to be noted that this section will be repealed on July 1, 2012[iv].
Within one year after the admission of the offender, the board will secure and consider all pertinent information regarding each offender, except any under sentence of death or otherwise ineligible for parole, including the circumstances of offense, previous social history, previous criminal record, including any records of law enforcement agencies or of a youth court regarding that offender’s juvenile criminal history, conduct, employment and attitude while in the custody of the department, and the reports of such physical and mental examinations as have been made. The board must furnish at least three months’ written notice to each such offender of the date on which s/he is eligible for parole[v].
Before ruling on the application for parole of any offender, the board may interview the offender. The hearing will be held held no later than thirty days prior to the month of eligibility. It is to be noted that no application for parole of a person convicted of a capital offense will be considered unless and until notice of the filing of such application was published at least once a week for two weeks in a newspaper published in the county in which the crime was committed. The board will also give notice of the filing of the application for parole to the victim of the offense or a designee of the immediate family of the victim. A parole is ordered only for the best interest of society and not as an award of clemency. Parole is not considered a reduction of sentence or pardon[vi].
Conditions of Parole
Every convicted prisoner who is sentenced for a definite term of one year or over or for a life term may be eligible for parole on fulfillment of the following conditions.
- The prisoner must have observed the rules of the Department of Corrections.
- S/he must have served not less than one-fourth of the total of such term or if sentenced to serve a term of 30 years or more, or, if sentenced for life term, has served not less than 10 years of such life sentence.
However, confirmed and habitual criminals under the provisions Miss. Code Ann. 99-19-81 through Miss. Code Ann. 99-19-87 are not eligible for parole. A sex offender above the age of 19 should not be released on parole. A convict will be eligible for parole only after completing one year in prison or should have accrued meritorious earned time allowances. Similarly, a convict of robbery or attempted robbery through the display of a firearm or deadly weapon must have served ten years in prison before being eligible for parole if s/he has been sentenced for a life term or a term of more than ten years. A person sentenced to life imprisonment under Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-101 is not eligible for parole.
In addition to other requirements, if an offender is convicted of a drug or a driving under the influence felony, the offender must complete a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program prior to parole or the offender may be required to complete a post-release drug and alcohol program as a condition of parole. Any inmate within 24 months of his/her parole eligibility date and who meets the criteria established by the classification board will receive priority for placement in any educational development and job training programs. Any inmate refusing to participate in an educational development or job training program may be n jeopardy of noncompliance with the case plan and may be denied parole[vii].
An offender who has served not less than one year of his/her sentence, except a sex offender, may be placed on conditional medical release[viii]. However, a nonviolent offender who is terminally ill may be placed on conditional medical release regardless of the time served on his/her sentence. Before granting a conditional medical release, the commissioner shall obtain from the medical director commissioner of the department a certificate that:
- the offender is suffering from a significant permanent physical medical condition with no possibility of recovery;
- that his/her further incarceration will serve no rehabilitative purposes;
- that the state would incur unreasonable expenses as a result of his/her continued incarceration.
Any offender placed on conditional medical release shall be supervised by the Division of Community Corrections of the department for the remainder of his/her sentence. A conditional medical release may be revoked and the offender may be returned to the actual custody of the department if the offender violates an order or condition of such release[ix].
Upon a showing of probable violation of parole, the board may issue a warrant for the return of any paroled offender to the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections[x]. An offender for whose return a warrant has been issued, after the issuance of such warrant, will be deemed a fugitive from justice[xi].
[i] Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-5.
[ii] Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-5.
[v] Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-17.
[vii] Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-3.
[viii] Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-4.
[x] Miss. Code Ann. § 47-7-27.