Wanted Wednesday: Stopping Career Criminals
On this week’s Wanted Wednesday, we introduce you to a criminal who has been wanted on and off since the 80s. Some may call him a professional criminal, a habitual offender and he’s not the only one of his kind.
News 25’s Shelby Myers sat down with Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell who thinks the state should take another look at repeat offenders.
Last Wednesday, 52-year-old Benjamin Sellers was arrested and charged with felony shoplifting after allegedly stealing from thee different Dollar Generals in Jackson County. Records show this isn’t his first criminal offense, Sheriff Mike Ezell says Sellers has been on the wrong side of the law for more than three decades now. “I have had personal police business with Mr. Sellers since the mid-80s and here he is again being charged with another crime.”
Sellers isn’t the only criminal of his kind. According to the National Institute of Justice, two thirds of prisoners are rearrested within three years of release, a number Sheriff Ezell wants to see drastically decrease. “There should be some opportunity for people that are coming back into society to be able to have some opportunity to try to be rehabilitated. If they’re willing to do it right, I would be willing to do my part, but you got to meet me halfway here.”
Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher is asking the state to improve programs that help get people’s lives back on track after they leave prison, an idea Sheriff Ezell fully supports. “So many of us would like to just ignore the problem, but it’s a problem that we need to seriously take a look at.”
In 2014, a state law was designed to make the criminal justice system more efficient and it created the Mississippi Re-entry Council. Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher believes re-entry courts could help former inmates find social services, drug treatment or job training.