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May 12, 2008




(JACKSON, Mississippi) – Governor Haley Barbour today signed legislation to strengthen the state’s crime laws and improve accountability in school districts across the state.


Senate Bill 2712, or “Miss Breland’s Law,” increases the prison term for criminals who use a credit card, bank draft, or other identifying information taken from its rightful owner by means of a violent crime or burglary. Under the new legislation, offenders can be sentenced to a prison term of five years, in addition to any other penalties related to the crime. The bill is dubbed “Miss Breland’s Law” in honor of Irene Breland, a retired public school teacher who was robbed and beaten in July 2006; she later died as a result of the violent crime in which offenders stole her purse and used her credit card.


“This legislation calls for tougher penalties for offenders who engage in identity theft, which is among the fastest growing types of crime in the nation,” Governor Barbour said. “I am pleased to sign this bill, which falls in line with the efforts of my administration to curb violent crime and protect the safety of our citizens.”


Governor Barbour also signed Senate Bill 2149, which increases accountability from school superintendents in districts across the state. The new law mandates the removal of superintendents from school districts designated as underperforming by the State Department of Education for at least two consecutive years. Elected school superintendents removed from office will be barred from seeking re-election for one full term under the legislation.


“Along with providing record funding increases for K-12 education, we must also demand improved accountability in the state’s educational system,” Governor Barbour said. “This bill ensures that the leaders of our school districts are held accountable for their performance in making sure our children are receiving the best education as possible. I’m delighted to sign into law this new accountability measure that will serve as an important tool in improving public education.”