Stop investing in failure,' says attorney general
By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
May 9, 2001
The escalating spiral of spending to keep inmates in prison is an investment in failure and the state would be better served by mentoring programs that reach "at risk" young people, Attorney General Mike Moore said Tuesday.
Moore said more than 200,000 Mississippi children risk running afoul of the law due to life circumstances not of their own making.
Mississippi leads the nation, on a per capita basis, in locking people up, Moore said. And, he added, the United States leads the world in the same category.
Moore has advocated more connections with, for example, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentoring program. He has worked to open new clubs and recruit mentors all over the state. He said he is also a "full, 100 percent partner" in the "Hope For Children" program being headed in Meridian by actress Sela Ward.
Moore said he thought he was making progress, then he talked to former Meridian superintendent of schools Jayne Sargent, who now heads the Jackson City Schools.
In a way, Moore was planting the seeds for some fundamental changes he'd like to see in state government.
During work last year with a juvenile oversight committee in the Legislature, he asked state agencies to list the top five juveniles on whom they were spending money.
Moore said when the responses came back, he realized agencies were spending about $3 million on the same five kids. Using this information, he attempted to convince the Legislature to make changes so money could be spent more effectively and serve more children. His effort passed the Senate, but died in the House.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.