Thursday, September 14, 2006
Jail over capacity
By SUE WATSON
Sheriff Kenny Dickerson said the Marshall County Jail is overloaded this week after the issuing of a number of orders from judges plus warrants by the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC).
With jail capacity at 100 inmates, this week there were 105 people in the facility, he said.
“A lot of that is due to several hundred warrants for arrest issued by circuit court for probation violations and contempt of court orders due to failure to appear or to comply with the terms of court sentences,” Dickerson said.
The overcrowding is due to those taken into custody over the last week or more because they either failed a drug test, failed to appear in court or failed to comply with probation orders issued by MDOC, he said.
A circuit judge has set aside a special day during the last week of September to hear these cases in Marshall County Circuit Court.
Dickerson released the names of several individuals arrested on drug-related charges by his deputies, agents with the Third Judicial Narcotics Task Force or by officers with MDOC.
They include the following:
Dickerson said in the past few years large numbers of people have appeared before circuit court and entered pleas, and agreed to terms of probation or to pay fees or fines.
A recent purging of the records by circuit court showed that numbers of individuals were not abiding by a judge’s orders.
“So the circuit judge issued orders for many to come and appear before a special court and to show cause why they should not be held in jail for failure to appear, to answer the docket call in person or through an attorney, or failure to pay fines,” Dickerson said. “Most often a judge will issue an order for them to be arrested and held for show cause.
“As a result of a combination of all these due processes being served, we are over capacity at jail and I don’t see any relief in sight.”
With the hundreds of these cases on top of an additional 150 or so cases on the September grand jury docket, Dickerson said this has created “a tremendous strain on our manpower and our capacity at the jail.”
He attributes the heavy case load to increased criminal activity associated with illegal drug trafficking and use locally and nationwide saying in some areas overcrowding of jails “is reaching the epidemic stage.”
Law enforcement also has to stay up on Homeland Security concerns, he said.
“Between homeland security problems and trying to curb the drug traffic, we are just about overwhelmed,” Dickerson said.
He expressed appreciation for the hard work of his officers, the Narcotics Task Force, and to the public who provide valuable information crucial to the success of law enforcement.
Dickerson warned that house burglaries and the burglary of four-wheelers and guns usually increase dramatically during hunting season. He urges the public to be aware of any suspicious looking activity in the neighborhood and to report unusual or suspicious activity to law enforcement. Any suspicious activity can be report to 911 dispatch.
Dickerson said deputies will be dispatched as quickly as possible after a call comes in.
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