By Othor Cain,
In a three-person race that became personal, brutal and sometimes exhausting, Jody Owens, former managing attorney at the Mississippi office of the Southern Poverty Law Center, was elected as the next district attorney for Hinds County.
Owens, defeated Jackson defense attorney Darla Palmer and veteran prosecutor Stanley Alexander in last week’s Democratic primary. No independent or Republican entered the race.
Owens, who will replace Robert Shuler Smith, received 53% of the votes in unofficial results, while Palmer received 33% and Alexander 14%. Smith did not seek reelection and ran unsuccessfully for governor as a Democrat.
Owens boldy ran on a platform that the Hinds County Criminal Justice System is broken. “I intend to make good on my campaign promises,” Owens said. “It’s about creating an environment in Hinds County where businesses flourish, families feel safe and our children thrive.”
At a forum where he was the only candidate to attend, Owens said, “Instead of making communities safer, mass incarceration is making the situation worse.” “I want to change that,” he shared.
Owens said that one of his primary focuses will be to make sure those who commit crimes are punished but he understands that we can’t ‘arrest’ our way out of what is happening in Jackson and across the county. “We’ve got to protect our vulnerable populations (seniors and children), and I intend to do that,” he said. “But I also understand the need for rehabilitation and I’m committed to helping everyone.
Owens also ran on a SMART Justice platform which is why helping people is very important to him. “Smart Justice includes re-entry programs for ex-offenders, mental health and rehabilitation treatment for those with addiction, support to the families of those affected by violence and collaborating with community organizations to find ways to reduce crime,” he said. “I’m committed to this and just like the voters elected me this past Tuesday, they can un-elect me if I fail to live up to these challenges.”
Owens graduated from Jackson State University and earned his law degree at Howard University School of Law. He has litigated class-action lawsuits on behalf of children and adults on matters like mass incarceration, private prisons and the school-to-prison pipeline.