The MacArthur Justice Center is releasing part two of a database that gives Mississippians a closer look into their county and regional jails. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.
A survey on msjaildata.com says the number of individuals incarcerated in Mississippi is decreasing. In April, the database identified more than 7,000 detainees. In an update released this week, there's been a 24 percent dip. Cliff Johnson is director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi Law School.
"I think it's important for citizens to know how their tax dollars are being spent, what's happening as far as the incarceration of other Mississippians and why they're there and why they're there so long," said Johnson.
However, Johnson says there's room for improvement. Findings show almost half the more than 5,000 people currently jailed had a stay of 90 or more consecutive days. Johnson says it's costing the state and in some cases it's a situation of the haves and the have not's..
"These people who are stuck in jail who's name appear on the database released today, these are people who can't afford to make bail. The people who had enough money to pay money bail they went home. They're not in these jails, they're not on these lists and that's just fundamentally unfair. Poor people have a different experience in the criminal justice system a worse experience just because they don't have any money," said Johnson.
Johnson says it's hard to draw too many conclusions from the data and better information is needed. The MacArthur Justice Center and even a legislative watchdog committee are asking state lawmakers to consider mandating a standard for all county and region jail officials collecting information on inmates. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.