Hinds County DA Jody Owens told the Rotary Club of North Jackson that his office is working hand-in-hand with top state leadership to make headway against Jackson's out-of-control crime problem.
Owens said, "The world changed when Covid hit. And the world changed as it pertained to criminal prosecution. The numbers of homicides increased almost 100 percent. Crime throughout the south and the United States increased particularly in large urban cities. So my vision of what the DA's office would look like suddenly changed. We had to assess why was crime out of control and what could we do about it to be impactful. We understood the assignment."
"We understood the narrative that Jackson was not tough enough on crime and the narrative that Jackson had a system of catch and release. We wanted to change that so when we arrived at the DA's office we started treating it like a business.
"We quickly realized that the DA's office was not equipped to handle the amount of crime that we had in the capital city. In our office we don't just have to prosecute not just the regular rapes, murders and assaults but there are 13 other agencies that bring prosecution crimes to our office: the Department of Revenue, the State Auditor's Office, all the colleges, all the universities, Wildlife and Fisheries. Our sheer volume of cases exceeds our ability to prosecute them successfully.
"There are only four circuit judges. We have more than 2,000 cases so even if judges were trying cases every day, there are not enough judges to try the cases to get things resolved. So when you see us announcing pleas and convictions from cases that were in 2018, 2019, we are consistently trying to catch up.
"I realized we couldn't do it by ourselves. So we immediately started working with the leadership of the state of Mississippi similar to what we see in the water crisis. We went to the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker or the house and we said we need more resources. We can't do this without some sort of help."
After months and months of meetings and information sessions showing state leaders the situation, the state got involved.
"We have the biggest capital contribution from the state of Mississippi than any other district attorney's office," Owens said."They allowed us to hire seven new assistant DA's, investigators, victim's advocates and coordinators.," Owens said, adding that special judges are being assigned to Hinds County.
"I assure you, things are going to get better," Owens said,
Listen to the video for his full talk, which begins at minute 8:45 in the video reel.