Mississippi AG beefs up state coffers with settlement money

By Shaun Zinck | Mar 15, 2015

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has deposited approximately $50 million in settlements into the General Fund this session.   Mississippi Attorney General

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office has deposited more than $50 million in settlements since the beginning of the legislative session into the General Fund, Attorney General Jim Hood said on Wednesday.

Hood said that the two settlements totaled approximately $30 million, with $26.8 million coming from Standard and Poor’s and about $3.2 million from Capital One. In February, another $20 million was deposited into the General Fund, Hood said.

Hood said state law requires that he make recommendations to the Legislature on how to improve public service, and believed there are several serious criminal and civil justice issues that he hopes legislators will address using the recovered funds.

One of the recommendations includes putting aside approximately $15 million for a new forensic unit to help the State Hospital at Whitfield house the criminally insane.

“Due to the shortage of beds, the department must move a person out in order to take another in,” Hood said. “As a result, defendants in need of forensic evaluations languish in county jails.”

Hood also recommended appropriating about $2 million to support housing and renal assistance for the mentally ill. A bill already has passed the House and is in the Senate Appropriation Committee.

Another $3 million was recommended to go to creating an Inmate Re-Entry Project, Hood said. Approximately 100 minimum-security beds would be created under the program for felony inmates who already have completed their sentences.

“From this facility, they would work during the day and receive drug, mental health, religious and life-skills counseling to prepare them for their release,” Hood said.

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