Legislative leaders and criminal justice advocates are trying to find out why some inmates are held in jail for long periods of time before trial. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports why some say counties need to keep better records.
A governing board is collecting data that could be used to reduce the number of individuals incarcerated. James Barber is director of the Legislative Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review group, known as the PEER committee. He says the analysis isn't complete and the accuracy of data collected by county is a mixed bag.
Barber says a Lowndes County facility held an inmate for approximately six years without trial. He says that's enough to recommend legislation that mandates some statewide standard for record-keeping.
"There is a right of freedom especially if conditions are such that that person can be let out of jail and it's necessary for this information to be available to judges that have jurisdiction over people in jail to make a determination as to wether they are eligible to be released," said Barber.
Cliff Johnson is director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi. He says the average number of days adults sit in jail without being convicted range from zero days in Montgomery County to 923 days in Rankin County.
"Counties are spending as much as 80-100 million dollars a year incarcerating individuals pre-trial. These are cash strapped counties that are having real problems making ends meet and they're spending significant sums of money holding people pre-trial who have not been found guilty of a crime," said Johnson.
Barber says legislators will review the PEER committee's recommendation during the 2019 session. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.