JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann (R-Miss.) announced a number of Senate bills aimed at curbing violent crime in Mississippi. Half of the bills announced on Thursday address carjacking and stolen property.
The Senate Judiciary B Committee on Thursday gave the first round of approval to Senate Bill 2101, sending it to the full Senate for debate in coming weeks.
The bill would set a 10-year minimum penalty for fleeing from law enforcement and injuring another person — up from the current penalty of three years. For fleeing and causing the death of another person, the minimum penalty would increase from five years to 20 years.
The bill also would increase the penalty for resisting arrest, from a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail to a felony punishable by up to two years in prison.
It also would set minimum penalties of five years for carjacking and 10 years for armed carjacking. Those crimes currently have no minimum prison time.
Hosemann said court records show more than 80 carjacking cases are awaiting trial in Hinds County, where Jackson is located.
“Not only is it a horrific crime for the individual that is carjacked like that, particularly armed carjack, not only is it a time for them, it’s the first step in what will eventually we believe be a more catastrophic event,” said Hosemann.
Another proposal, Senate Bill 2099, would increase penalties for stealing a motor vehicle without the threats or force involved in a carjacking. Current law sets punishment based on the value of the stolen vehicle. The bill would set prison time of five to 20 years. It passed the Judiciary B Committee on Wednesday and awaits action in the full Senate.
Hosemann’s pickup truck was stolen from his northeast Jackson home in 2018, and he said Thursday that it was used in robberies before it was found weeks later in another part of the city.
Hosemann also commented on House Bill 1020, which is the proposal that would create a separate court system in the Capitol Complex Improvement District. Hosemann said he would like to speak to State Rep. Trey Lamar (R-District 8), who authored the bill, and then talk with the Mississippi Supreme Court about the process of adding judges.
The bill did move to the House floor for consideration.
The ACLU of Mississippi has released a statement about House Bill 1020, which stated in part, “HB 1020 is a move to take voting power, political power, and tax revenue away from the majority Black citizens of Jackson. The legislation illegally empowers Judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court and prosecutors appointed by the State Attorney General to oversee criminal and civil cases in Jackson. These judges and prosecutors will be unelected and unaccountable to the citizens of Jackson. But they would have authority over a large segment of Jackson’s criminal and civil court system.”
Mississippi has one of the highest incarceration rates in the U.S., and legislators have tried to ease that problem in recent years, including enacting a 2021 law that expanded parole eligibility.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.