Grand jury recommends tougher sentences

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - A Jones County grand jury is asking the legislature to increase prison time for people convicted of manslaughter and is recommending violent prisoners not be released until they have served more than four-fifths of their sentence behind bars. The report, released last Tuesday, asks lawmakers to require a minimum sentence for manslaughter of 5 years and a maximum of up to 50 years.

The report also recommends the Department of Corrections not release inmates who have committed violent crimes until they have served at least 85 percent of their sentence with no time taken off.

Jones County assistant district attorney J. Ronald Parrish has been an outspoken proponent of tougher sentences and applauds the grand jury's report.

"This is just gotten out of hand, you know," said Parrish. "People are getting 20 years for killing people and getting out in 8 and it just goes on and on and on. This is evidence of a lack of regard for the sanctity of human life and it unfortunately seems to get more pervasive in our society and it needs to be addressed," Parrish said. He says some local lawmakers he's spoken with support the tougher penalties and he hopes the legislature will address the issue when the 2011 session begins.

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