BY JOSH PRESLEY
The West Point Police Department hosted an information session pertaining to House Bill 585 for local business owners Tuesday at City Hall, a session that saw a low turnout.
District Attorney Forrest Allgood and Assistant DA Katie Moulds were on hand to inform locals on the new bill, which took effect July 1, in a session Allgood referred to as “the damage report.”
Mississippi legislature passed HB 585 in March, and it will take effect July 1. The bill was intended to avert prison population growth, according to a statement from Gov. Phil Bryant’s office. The bill is projected to save the state $266 million a year.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said in a statement released to media that the growing cost of corrections is unsustainable for Mississippi taxpayers. The Mississippi Department of Corrections budget for 2013 was $339,130,434.
West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley said the forum was WPPD’s way of trying to connect with the public and address some concerns. The changes the bill makes are significant and will directly affect business owners who are victimized in the future, according to Brinkley.
“The most significant change is that the victim will have to suffer a $1,000 loss in order for the offense to constitute a felony,” Brinkley said. “This will definitely hit our businesses in the pocket.”
Allgood said HB 585 has affected every property crime, and that the bill will lead to many unintended consequences.
“I don’t think the average business owner knows what’s coming,” Allgood said. “We’re going to get a bunch of angry phone calls from citizens who don’t know what’s going on.”
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