Monday, August 20, 2018

Supervisors Blast DA Over Unindicted Inmates

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors slammed District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith over the large number of prisoners who are unindicted yet remain in county jails this morning. 




The comments were made during a report on the jail provided by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.  Hinds County formed the Council as part of the 2016 consent decree with the Justice Department over the operations of the Hinds County detention centers.  The Council is made up of judges, prosecutors, supervisors, county officials, and of course, the District Attorney.  The purpose of the Council is to "streamline" and improve the criminal justice system in Hinds County. 


Kenny Lewis provided the following data on the detention centers to the Supes:

 658 total inmates in detention centers.
386 inmates at the Raymond Detention Center.
146 inmates are unindicted yet have been in custody over 90 days.
108 inmates  are indicted but have not gone to trial.
17 juveniles are charged as adults and are held at Henley-Young Youth Detention Center
95 inmates are between the ages of 18-21.

The county reduced the jail population, and thus the costs, through the use of house arrest and electronic monitoring.  District 2 Supervisor Darrell McQuirter said said he did some kitchen-table math and the detainees who who were incarcerated for more than a year probably cost the county close to $4 million per year (142 inmates at $50 per day).   He said "that is $4 million a year we are spending to see what happens to somebody." 

The District Attorney drew no small amount of criticism for the large number of unindicted prisoners.  Board Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen said that the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council was created to streamline the criminal justice system in Hinds County.  He said "we are trampling their (prisoners) rightsby parking them at Raymond."  He said all parties but the District Attorney was showing up for the monthly meetings.

"Yes, Mr. District Attorney, you're not showing up at these meetings," said the Board Attorney from the podium.  He continued "Send an ADA but then don't send one who is just running for a judgeship."  He urged Mr. Smith to   "send someone who can make decisions."  He said that the Hinds County detention centers would only have 430-450 inmates incarcerated instead of 658 if it operated at the national average for a county with the population of Hinds County.  

The District Attorney took a shot at the Board on Twitter on August 15:


 The Hinds County DA will ask for an audit of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors on behalf of Hinds County taxpayers. An audit is necessary as transparency is needed to inform the citizens of the management and use of public funds.

Currently, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors pays for defendants to be out on bond through Probation Services Company (PSC) without any accountability. Hinds County taxpayers’ money is not being used to support the safety of Hinds County citizens.
Board President Mike Morgan said the county received its audit two weeks ago.  "We get audited all the time.  I don't know what he's talking about," said Mr. Morgan.  He said that if the D.A. has concerns about the monitoring contracts, then he should attend a council meeting and tell us about them instead of sending out vague tweets."

Kingfish note: Keep in mind that the report posted below does not include inmates currently on house arrest while awaiting trial or indictment.



28 comments:

Anonymous said...

146 inmates are unindicted yet have been in custody over 90 days.

That is deplorable. Absolutely deplorable.

Anonymous said...

One thing we have in Jackson is lawyers.

Get sup court to appoint 5 judges for criminal cases

Get judges to appoint lawyers to defend cases

Start trials immediately

Anonymous said...

Next-

Anonymous said...

Autopsy reports now take more than 90 days to receive. Can't indict a murder case without being specific about cause of death. There is a delay that can't be helped. Crime lab behind on testing controlled substances. Can't indict without forensic proof of what drug it is and what it weighs. Yes a crime happened today but it isn't tv where they arrest a suspect, gather all witnesses and evidence and wrap it all up in 60 minutes.
You know the feds are different than the States when they prosecute. They build their case and when they are ready to try you (have all witnesses and evidence and forensic reports) then they arrest you. State courts arrest you first after developing just enough evidence (probable cause) to connect you to criminal activity. Then they go about getting items tested and witnesses located.
Bottom line- Would you rather the State wait for all this evidence to be secured before getting the murderer off the street? I doubt it-

Kingfish said...

Legislature kept giving money to DPS for the crime lab but shocker, DPS would take the money and spend it somewhere else. Hence why the leg started itemizing appropriations this year.

Anonymous said...

i wonder how many of these total inmates are from Jackson? That would be interesting to know since it is one of the 10 most dangerous cities. All of these pre-trial defendants that are out on "probation" ...Is someone actually keeping up with them or just collecting fees from them? Show us some numbers of how many of them have been re-arrested while in that program and how many are from Jackosn. The ENTIRE Criminal Justice System of HINDS County is broken.

Anonymous said...

"He said that the Hinds County detention centers would only have 430-450 inmates incarcerated instead of 658 if it operated at the national average for a county with the population of Hinds County."

Yea. Right. I don't think the crime rate of Hinds County / Jacktown will bring the number of inmates down to the national average.

Justice for RSS said...

KF, is there a way to have RSS removed for incompetence? I realize he is an elected official but there has to be a way for the state or Justice Department to impeach him. I mean it’s like he isn’t even trying to appear like he gives a damn.

Anonymous said...

Criminal justice system in Hinds is definitely broken. The cops and deputies are doing their jobs. Kudos for the transparency from county leaders.

Anonymous said...

These meetings have come a long way from the days of Kenny Stokes shouting “yo momma”. This group has made a lot of progress since the last election.

Anonymous said...

Supervisor said 200 detainees in the jail today have been there for a year or more with some being there 2,3 or 4 years. That’s nuts.

Anonymous said...

Not covering for Smith but the criminal justice system in Hinds, and supporting state agencies, is simply overwhelmed by the volume of crime occurring in Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Its the unindicted ones that have lived there six months that are the cause for concern. Geez, where’s the constitution?

Anonymous said...

I forgot you are going to blame the statcrime lab, explain why surrounding counties prosecute so much quicker.

Anonymous said...

Hinds County BOS fell off the radar years ago. No fun to watch once the shenanigans ended. This is probably the most functional group of supes in Hinds Co in decades. Not that anybody really cares.

Anonymous said...

This is probably the most functional group of supes in Hinds Co in decades.

I agree. Adults came in the room and sat down at the table.

Anonymous said...

Robert Graham would have been a better Mayor than the yammering ideologue who was elected.

Anonymous said...

@11:21 they shouldn’t indict crimes that aren’t ready to go to trial. We should demand more from our district attorneys. How can you indict someone on a drug charge and not be sure they have drugs. A grand jury should not return an indictment on a charge of possession of “alleged” marijuana. That practice leads to a lot of people being indicted and jailed for months just to have their charge remanded or nolle prosed. Also he’s been doing this long enough to know how to prioritize his charges. Violent offenders should be dealt with swiftly. Not saying that a possession or theft charge isn’t bad but you certainly shouldn’t risk not prosecuting a murderer or rapists because the crime lab is busy with a drug sample. He can request the crime lab give evidence involving violent offenders priority over lesser offenses. This DA is great at deflecting. He’s blamed JPD, the judges, and now the board. Here’s what we know. The DA is the only entity that can indict, he decides what the final charges will be, and decides whether to go to trial, reduce charges, or offer a plea. Judges the board and JPD can’t indict etc. if JPD has issues working up their cases as he alleges DA has the option of not indicting which would alleviate overcrowding and overspending. I believe our Constitution only requires indictment in 90 days if the accused is detained. If you can’t indict you MUST give them a bond or ROR until you are able to indict. Once they’re indicted you have 270 days to go to trial.

Anonymous said...

11:11 >>> you cannot start a trial if the case is not indicted regardless of how many judges and defense attorneys work in Hinds County.

The problem with RSS's Office is three-fold:
1) Not presenting cases to the grand jury on a timely basis
2) Presenting cases to the grand jury prematurely where no forensic reports have been produced (or even requested by JPD/HCSO/ETC)
3)Presenting cases to the grand jury where the evidence cannot support a conviction so the cases get put in the DA circular file and never gets placed upon the trial docket for fear of acquittal

If RSS receives a file from any law enforcement agency and the lab reports are missing, his office should return the case to the agency and make them do their job. Especially if the missing reports are autopsy, DNA, finger print, gun shot residue, toxicology, trace evidence, drug analysis.

There are indicted cases in Hinds County right now where autopsies were conducted two plus years ago but the autopsy report has not been written.

There is no reasonable excuse for indicting a case for murder when you do not know the manner and cause of death.

The system is broken and the only things that will fix it are money and common sense, both apparently lacking as we stand now.

Anonymous said...

1:43 and 1:56 plus one. Its not nearly as much fun as the old days. But they are paving some roads.

Anonymous said...

I watched the Kingfish video. The media clips on local news completely botched the message. If you watch the video, Hinds spend $3.6 million on detainees that have been sitting there for over a YEAR, with many there for two years or more. That $3.6 million does not include the other 400 that have not been there a year yet. As the supervisor said, taxpayers are paying to feed, guard and medicate those inmates at $50 per day. That is insane.

And RSS is complaining about people out on bond with monitoring bracelets. You want to save the county some money, move those people sitting in jail through the system. Convict them and hand them over the MDOC. McQuirter nailed it. Push those costs to the state as fast as you can.

Anonymous said...

to 11:40am ....... if you removed every incompetent government employee, both elected and un elected, there would be virtually no one left.

Anonymous said...

Hell has frozen over. The Hinds County BOS have their stuff together and the only time they make the news if when they point out the misdeeds of other officials. Meanwhile in Madison.....

Operation Clean Sweep said...

Remember its Jackson the City that wants to build a NASCAR track and Madison the County that still has the amusement park on the table. Not Madison the city or Hinds the county.

And don't even start with Mississippi the state.

Marlana Walters said...

This is beyond ridiculous. The more I learn about government and the judicial system the heavier my heart becomes. I’m past being cynical - what can we do to fix it?

Anonymous said...

the autopsy excuse is not valid in a high percentage of cases. people that die from gunshot wounds have quite obvious cause and manner of death. I'm a former Hinds ADA and I tried several murder cases using the coroner instead of the ME. The emergency room doctor is another option in some cases. RSS has, through the years, let the operational efficiency of the office slide way down.

BTW, I retired on good terms, no sour grapes here.

Anonymous said...

Autopsy? The majority of the 200 people sitting there for over a year didn't kill anybody. Armed robbery, burglary, assault...all bad stuff but not cases awaiting an autopsy or crime lab reports.

The DA has let the operational efficiency slide way down. Nicely said. But the judges are not holding him accountable either. The judges, DA and defense lawyers should ALL make it a priority to not let people rot in the detention center for years awaiting trial.

Anonymous said...

I heard the DA said "no mas" today and has gone back to blasting the judges. It was no contest against the supervisors.

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