Jody Owens has "demonstrated a commitment" to making Jackson better, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said during a live WMPR 90.1 radio broadcast of Coffee and Conversations with Wanda Evers on Wednesday, endorsing him in the race for Hinds County district attorney.
Owens, a Democrat who announced his bid for the office earlier this year, is the managing attorney at the Mississippi branch of the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, which focuses on civil-rights litigation.
"I am grateful to my friend Jody Owens for his work, and when you talk about the leadership that we elect, we don't need to do it based on just being friends, but we need to know the history of a person," Lumumba said. "Jody has worked for the SPLC. He has led it several years. So this isn't a person who just arrived today and is telling you a good story. He's demonstrated a commitment. And for that, I have endorsed him. I am endorsing him."
'To Build a Better Jackson'
During his tenure at the SPLC over the past decade, Owens' work has focused on fighting mass incarceration, the "school-to-prison pipeline" that heavily targeted African American youth and on reforming criminal justice in Mississippi, including efforts to end the state's reliance on private prisons.
Under his watch in 2013, the SPLC joined the American Civil Liberties Unionto sue the state for its treatment of prisoners at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, citing rats crawling out of toilets, cells without lights, a lack of health care and mental-health care, and other alleged squalor conditions.
In a campaign email announcing the endorsement on Wednesday, Owens said he was glad to have Lumumba's support.
"We're proud to have Mayor Lumumba's support," he wrote. "We must work together to build a better Jackson and better Hinds County. Our criminal justice problems are too serious