Overcriminalization in Mississippi

State Overview

Despite recent efforts at reform, Mississippi’s drug sentencing laws remain harsh, subjecting even the lowest-level, first-time drug offenders to prison time.

While simple possession of marijuana is technically treated as a misdemeanor, even relatively small amounts can still trigger a felony charge. This provision can also be bypassed by charging individuals with possession with intent to distribute. The state’s enhancement zones are large, subjecting thousands of Mississippians to enhanced sentences just by virtue of where they might happen to live.


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Mississippi criminalizes all drug offenses.

0/40 points

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The state treats simple possession of marijuana as a misdemeanor, but only for very small amounts.

5/30 points

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Elimination of Drug Enhancements

Mississippi maintains broad sentencing enhancements for drug offenses, doubling sentences for sale or possession within 1,500 feet of a school, movie theater, or church. The state also has a provision that doubles the sentencing length for second-time drug offenses.

0/15 points

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Mens Rea

Mississippi has no mens rea requirement in statute.

0/15 points