Governor Bryant discusses prison reform meeting with President T - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Governor Bryant discusses prison reform meeting with President Trump

Mississippi's prison reforms are being used as a national example. Source: WLBT Mississippi's prison reforms are being used as a national example. Source: WLBT
Governor Phil Bryant met with President Donald Trump in New Jersey Thursday. Source: WLBT Governor Phil Bryant met with President Donald Trump in New Jersey Thursday. Source: WLBT
Mississippi's prison system has been criticized in the past, but now it's serving as an example as Congress considers prison reforms. Source: WLBT Mississippi's prison system has been criticized in the past, but now it's serving as an example as Congress considers prison reforms. Source: WLBT
Governor Bryant notes that there are technical programs at play in Mississippi prisons that are focused on preventing re-entry into the system later. Source: WLBT Governor Bryant notes that there are technical programs at play in Mississippi prisons that are focused on preventing re-entry into the system later. Source: WLBT
Empower Mississippi has added a new initiative that will focus on tearing down the barriers that still exist. Source: WLBT Empower Mississippi has added a new initiative that will focus on tearing down the barriers that still exist. Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -

Mississippi's prison reforms are being used as a national example.

Governor Phil Bryant met with President Donald Trump in New Jersey Thursday.

Bryant says they discussed prison reform for about an hour and a half.

Mississippi's prison system has been criticized in the past, but now it's serving as an example as Congress considers prison reforms.

"We've got about 3,000 less inmates than we had," noted Bryant."We've saved about $40 million."

That's the result of Mississippi's reforms that were passed in 2014. They included alternative or reduced sentences for non-violent offenders, a bigger push for drug courts, and other rehab programs.

Governor Bryant notes that there are technical programs at play in Mississippi prisons that are focused on preventing re-entry into the system later.

"There are a lot of young men and women that made a mistake in their early years, a non-violent offender, who can be taught a skill, who can get their GED, who can have a re-entry program opportunity and be back as a productive citizen," said Bryant.

Empower Mississippi has added a new initiative that will focus on tearing down the barriers that still exist.

"There's a lot more work to be done," described James Robertson, Empower Mississippi Employability and Criminal Justice Reform Director. "Sentencing is one part of it, but we've got to follow through and see how these laws are impacting people on the ground."

Empower says they'll keep working to find the most effective interventions and ways to address the issues leading folks to prison on the front end.

"Incarceration is valuable sometimes but if someone has an addiction issue or a mental health issue, if we can identify that and address it on the front end and get those people into a meaningful treatment program or some other intervention...it's a lot cheaper, it saves taxpayer dollars, you have better outcomes because you're actually addressing the underlying issue that led that person to crime," added Robertson.

The Trump administration supports federal reforms that include more money for drug treatment, education and job skills programs. All of those, similar to what's being tried in Mississippi.

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