Hosemann: Strengthen penalties for carjacking, other crimes
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said Thursday that he wants to set stronger penalties for carjacking, resisting arrest and fleeing from law enforcement officers.
The proposals are being considered during an election year when lawmakers and statewide officials, including Republican Hosemann, will be on the ballot.
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.
Senate Judiciary A Committee Chairman Brice Wiggins, a Republican from Pascagoula, was among the proponents of those criminal justice changes. During a news conference with Hosemann on Thursday, Wiggins said lawmakers always differentiated between violent and nonviolent offenses. He also said “violent offenses are out of control" now, particularly in the capital city of Jackson.
“Every person in the state of Mississippi wants and deserves a safe community,” Wiggins said. “They have reached out to us and said, ‘Please, do something.’”
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.
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.