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Judge concerned about house arrest program

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
April 1, 2001
Circuit Court Judge Larry Roberts believes Mississippi's house arrest program is becoming an early release program and wants area legislators to consider possible changes in the law.
Roberts recently become concerned when learning a three-time convicted felon had been released from prison and placed on house arrest.
In a letter sent last month to MDOC Commissioner Robert Johnson and more than a dozen Mississippi legislators, Roberts criticized the law, calling the statute "ridiculous." Roberts said he wrote the letter after learning MDOC officials removed the felon from prison after he served only a fraction of his latest sentence.
The inmate, Darrin Junior Moffite, was sentenced in 1990 to serve six years in prison for a sale of cocaine conviction. He was paroled a year later.
In 1999, Moffite was convicted of Felony DUI in Lauderdale County and sentenced to serve one year in prison. After serving 85 percent of that sentence, Moffite was released to the Noxubee County Jail to face another Felony DUI indictment. That arrest was made one month prior to his felony DUI conviction in Lauderdale County.
Moffite was found guilty in Noxubee County in September 2000 and was sentenced to serve one year in jail. Four months later, officials with the Mississippi Department of Corrections released him to ISP, better known as house arrest.
Roberts said he is angered that state law allows MDOC officials to make such arbitrary decisions when circuit court judges must follow strict guidelines in house arrest sentencing.
Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, responded, saying, "This would seem to be a situation where an anomaly may exist in the statute that the Legislature may need to address next session."
Roberts said he has heard from no other legislators on the matter, although he is hopeful a change in the law will come about, making house arrest criteria identical for both Circuit Court judges and MDOC officials.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.
Did you know?
The Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) provides convicted felons a chance to serve their prison sentences from home, allowing them to go to work and other necessary places, such as the grocery store, at specified times. The program is designed for non-violent, non-drug and non-sex offenders only. ISP prevents convicted felons from possibly losing their jobs, spouses, families and homes. Felons are required to wear electronic monitors on their ankles that will notify officials if the offender goes outside his designated boundaries.