Hinds County Public Safety Initiative making progress

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - “Three weeks ago, we announced that the Mississippi Legislature funded a project that was aimed at combating the crime that was started due to the pandemic,” stated Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens.

During the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers appropriated more than $700,000 dollars to the State public defender’s office... to increase criminal defense services for impoverished defendants in the 7th circuit district.

Last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court assigned four special judges to assist with the backlog. Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens says the current court system is not equipped to handle the level of violence in the capital city.

“Our current judges are working really hard, but they have half civil and half criminal dockets so, with a spike in crime, we need other judges to assist, Owens said.

“We’ve been working with them as soon as they were announced by the office of the state public defender, and we have already provided teams who are ready for docket call or anything else. Matter of fact, they are already working with our already elected judges on cases as we speak,” said Hinds County Public Defender Gail Wright Lowery.

Jackson has seen a record number of homicides since the pandemic.

In 2020, there were 157 homicides in Jackson. In 2021, 160, and in 2022, there have been 97 homicides so far.

This leaves the question, with new funding and newly appointed judges, are there any plans to expand or build a new jail or holding facility?

“Yes, we are. We are going to have a groundbreaking really soon on a new jail. It will be the first phase of a new jail. That’s coming very soon, maybe in the next two weeks,” said District 3 Hinds County Supervisor Credell Calhoun

Owens says, over the past three months, the Hinds County district attorney’s office and the public defender’s office have also hired lawyers and investigators.

“Crime is the most critical thing in our community right now, the murder rate has to stop. Individuals will be held accountable and that will be the focus of the Hinds County district attorney’s office.”

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