Are judges setting bail too low in Hinds County? - - Jackson, MS

Are judges setting bail too low in Hinds County?

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Belhaven residents gave a standing ovation to the Jackson Police Department Thursday night after talking about crime.

The meeting comes 8 days after 69-year-old Carolyn Temple was robbed and shot on Euclid Avenue. She died on Monday.

A standing-room-only crowd showed many at the community meeting that these folks are serious about keeping their neighborhood safe.

"I grew up in Jackson also. I've been here a long time and I want to stay here. I'm not running," Diane Hogan said. "And that's another good thing about Belhaven people. They know that if they stay and do the work, it works."

In the Temple case, two of the suspects arrested on Tuesday were already out on bond.

Their previous crimes were armed robbery.

"One was out on a $25,000 bond and one was out on a $10,000 bond," said Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith. 

"What we're seeing here recently is individuals who do constitute dangers to the community are being released on what I would consider to be very minimal bonds for the crimes in which they've committed," Madison and Rankin County District Attorney Michael Guest said. 

Guest said lower bonds, like he's seen in Hinds County on multiple occasions, end up leaving most with less faith in the criminal justice system - except criminals.

"I believe that it will help us be able to stop crimes before they occur," Guest said. "The young men that killed the lady in Jackson, if those individuals had been in jail, she'd be alive today."

And Hinds County D.A. Robert Shuler Smith isn't opposed to higher amounts, either.

"I'm not opposed to higher bonds on certain cases such as carjacking cases and armed robbery cases," Smith said.

There's only one caveat: it's not their decision. Judges set bonds, not district attorneys.

Now the Jackson City Council could look at the issue.

"That's another step that we will take, to look at that situation and see how it can be improved," Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said.

Whether the city council can force a judge's hand is another matter. 

Guest says ultimately it's left up to the voters to decide, since judges in Mississippi are elected, not appointed.

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