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Governor signs law named for 99-year-old crime victim

Gov. Haley Barbour has signed into law a tough-on-crime bill named for a 99-year-old woman who died after she was beaten during a robbery.

“Miss Breland’s Law” creates longer sentences for criminals who use a credit card, bank draft or other identifying information taken from victims by means of a violent crime or burglary.

The bill, which Barbour signed Monday, is named for Irene Breland, a 99-year-old woman who died after struggling to overcome severe injuries she sustained in a robbery at her home July 22, 2006.

Police said Breland was attempting to enter her north Jackson home through the garage when someone struck her on her head and stole her purse. She fell to the concrete and broke her hip, leaving her unable to move. Her nephew found her.

Breland taught English for 41 years in Jackson Public Schools and was beloved in her community. The crime outraged residents and prompted lawmakers to take action.

Police said the offenders stole her purse and used her credit card.

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.

“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,” 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.”

The bill is Senate Bill 2712