TUPELO • A former Tupelo High School teacher began serving a 10-year sentence in state prison this week.
Early Monday morning, Braden Bishop, 37, of Tupelo, was transported from the Lee County Jail to the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl.
Bishop pleaded guilty Nov. 8 to the sexual battery and fondling of a 16-year-old female student. Lee County senior Circuit Court Judge Paul Funderburk sentenced Bishop to 10 years in prison (with 35 years suspended) and to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Under state law, the sentence will have to be served day for day with no chance of parole or time off for good behavior. His tentative release date is Nov. 5, 2029, when he will be 47.
After pleading guilty and being sentenced, Bishop sat in the county jail for more than four weeks until the Mississippi Department of Corrections showed up Monday. According to the jail docket book, Bishop was released to the custody of MDOC at 4:15 a.m. Dec. 9.
“By law, we have up to 30 days to transport a prisoner to a state facility,” said MDOC communications director Grace Simmons Fisher.
There can also be a lag between the sentencing and someone being entered into the MDOC computer system. That delay can lead to the time from sentencing to entering a state prison being more than a calendar month.
In the last few months, the 31 days it took Bishop to make it to the Rankin County facility is about normal. Tah Hudson, 18, of Tupelo, pleaded guilty Oct. 30 to two counts of burglary and stealing a car. He was transferred to MDOC custody 33 days later on Dec. 2. Brian Austin Robison, 26, of Saltillo, had his probation revoked in early October. He began serving a pair of sentences suspended in 2017 on Nov. 4, some 33 calendar days later.
The recent exception was Antonio Gladney, 37, of Shannon, who was sentenced to life for killing his own mother on Mother’s Day 2017. Gladney spent 30 months in the county jail. He pleaded guilty on Nov. 18 and a week later, he was on his way to Pearl.
For security reasons, MDOC does not give advance warning – to prisoners, families or jail staff – about when they will pick up prisoners from county jail. Generally, they will show up unannounced in the middle of the night and be back on the road well before sunrise.
Bishop was originally indicted on five felony sex charges and faced up to 135 years in prison before withdrawing his not guilty plea. Just more than a year after being charged, he pleaded guilty to two of the charges. On the sexual battery charge, the judge sentenced Bishop to 30 years in prison, but suspended 20 years. On the fondling charge, Funderburk imposed a 15-year suspended sentence. Once released, there will be another five years of probation.
If Bishop does not abide by the terms of the probation, he could be forced to serve the 35 years the judge suspended.