Former Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance said Friday that reforming the pretrial detention system in Hinds County would be a top priority for his administration if he is elected Hinds County Sheriff in November.
"Our system is like a swamp, but it must flow, and that will solve a lot of problems," the Democratic nominee for sheriff told attendees of a community forum last Friday, referring to the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond, where long case-processing times have led to people waiting, on average, one year and seven months for their day in court. One man is currently awaiting trial for six years, outcoming Sheriff Victor Mason said recently.
The Hinds County Detention Center has a long history of violence, mismanagement and lawsuits. The jail is currently under a federal consent decree following a 2011 lawsuit.
A 2015 BOTEC Analysis Corp. report on crime and the judicial and jail systems in Jackson, which the Mississippi Legislature funded and Attorney General Jim Hood contracted out, found that it took around 585 days for felony cases to move to disposition within the Hinds County Circuit Court.
The delays, which feed into violence and disruption in the jail, have long been a result of systemic problems involving the district attorney's office, judges and law enforcement.
BOTEC found that more than 72% of the people inside the Hinds County Detention Center had been there for more than one year, with 42% serving more than two years before appearing in front of a judge. Nearly a quarter of the jail's population had been there for three or more years. The national standard for case-processing times, based on a sliding scale, recommends that 75% of felony cases be resolved within 90 days. Mississippi has adopted its own, longer standard for disposition time, however, at 270 days for felony cases and