A new survey provided to the Associated Press suggests the number of Mississippi inmates jailed for short periods may be declining. But the number of those jailed for longer stretches is holding steady.
The survey by the Macarthur Justice Center shows almost half of the more than 5,000 people jailed had a stay of 90 or more consecutive days. More than 600 had been in jail longer than a year.
That number includes an unknown number of people serving sentences in jails and not just awaiting trial. The most recent census conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013 showed an average pretrial jail stay in Mississippi of 40 days, the sixth- longest in the country.
The census also revealed Mississippi had the second-highest number of local jail inmates per capita, behind Louisiana.
Criminal justice experts and even state lawmakers say they need more data to help determine why so many people are in jail, what’s keeping them there and what Mississippi should do about it.