Stuck in jail: Poor Mississippi inmates wait long for trial

April 24, 2018 in News

By JEFF AMY
Associated Press

jailBRANDON, Miss. (AP) – A new survey provided exclusively to The Associated Press shows that Mississippi inmates awaiting trial can spend months or even years in local jails.

The survey by the MacArthur Justice Center shows more than one-third of all of those jailed before trial had a stay of 90 or more consecutive days. More than 600 had been in jail longer than a year.

Federal and private studies show Mississippi has the sixth-longest pretrial stays in the nation. It also has one of the highest numbers of local jail inmates per capita.

Judges set high bails that inmates can’t afford. Public defenders often ignore inmates until they are indicted, or even later. Inmates can wait months for indictment, because of infrequent meetings of local courts and delays processing evidence. Those who wait longest of all are inmates needing mental health diagnosis and treatment.