Mississippi College Law Review

Publication Date

Fall 2023


Clear and fair criminal laws are foundational to criminal justice, and any meaningful reform effort should begin with the criminal laws. The Mississippi Code has been justifiably criticized as often being neither clear nor fair. This article about reforming the theft crimes is the fourth in a series of articles advocating for change to the Mississippi criminal laws. The first article explained why change is needed. Briefly, Mississippi criminal laws have been justifiably criticized because of gross sentencing disparities, vague definitions of the conduct prohibited, as well as confusing or absent definitions of states of mind required to commit the crime. The criminal statutes are also often disorganized and do not relate to each other.

I have been chairing a committee [hereinafter “the Committee”] to reform the Mississippi Criminal Code for more than twenty years. The Committee was originally appointed by the Mississippi Judicial Advisory Study Committee, which was established by the legislature in 1993 to improve the administration of justice. The Committee has completed work on the project and is currently reviewing what we have done, which accounts for the more recent dates I refer to in the minutes of the Committee [hereinafter “Minutes.”] The Committee hopes to present its proposals to the legislature in the foreseeable future to alleviate some of the problems with the current code, described above and more comprehensively in the first article. The Committee proposals are an important part of criminal justice reform, and the purpose of these articles is to explain the Committee’s reasoning, as well as to present the proposed changes to the law.



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