JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Earlier this year, the Mississippi State Legislature passed, and Governor Reeves signed into law, multiple bills that make substantial investments in the public safety and criminal justice systems.
These bills make it possible to provide more police officers on the streets of Jackson and more resources to hold those who commit crimes accountable in court. The Hinds County Public Safety Initiative went into effect July 1, 2022.
One of the first action items of the initiative was to appoint four special judges to help with the backlog of cases in Hinds County. In addition, the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office has hired assistant district attorneys, criminal investigators, paralegals and administrative staff.
They have also secured office space and courtroom space, as well as necessary equipment and software to more efficiently prosecute cases. The Office of State Public Defender is also recruiting and hiring new lawyers and staff to assist in the judicial process.
This year alone, 508 cases have been resolved in Hinds County through trials, pleas, dismissals, or diversion programs. 79% of all active cases have concluded with guilty verdicts, guilty pleas, or diversion programs. Most of the guilty verdicts have been for Life in Prison. There have been 275 guilty pleas and 25 trials, most of which have been murder trials.
There are more than 2,000 open cases in Hinds County. As part of the initiative, the Legislature approved millions of dollars in three separate appropriations bills for additional staff at the District Attorney’s office, new special temporary judges appointed by the Mississippi Supreme Court, and public defenders to assist in the judicial process.
The Legislature also added 37 new officers to the Capitol Police Force, bringing its total to 150 officers, appropriated funds for Capitol Police equipment and technology, and invested in upgrades in the State Crime Lab.