New website sheds light on jail time in the Golden Triangle

The exterior of the Oktibbeha County Jail (courtesy of Oktibbeha County)
By: 
RYAN PHILLIPS
SDN EDITOR

A new website launched this week by the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi highlights inmates in county jails who continue to await an indictment or trial.

The report shows more than one-third of those in county jails have been incarcerated for more than 90 days.

The website, MSjaildata.com, uses data provided by county sheriffs, and says 34 inmates had been in the Oktibbeha County Jail for 90 days or longer as of Oct. 9, 2017.

Also incorporating a map feature that shows the average stay in each county, the website seeks to provide comprehensive access to incarceration data as it relates to time spent locked up. For Oktibbeha County, the average stay for inmates during the recording period was reported to be 119.6 days.

The MacArthur Justice Center said in a release that the website provides the names of the more than 7,000 inmates in Mississippi’s local jails and includes the counties in which they are being held, the date of their arrest, the charges against them, and the total amount of time they have been in jail.

According to researchers, the vast majority of those identified in the database have not yet been convicted and are awaiting indictment, trial, or mental health services.

Defendants like Keyontay Raheem Young, who was arrested on various traffic and burglary charges, was held in the Oktibbeha County Jail for 146 days awaiting the next phase of his case.

In Oktibbeha County, four inmates had been held longer than a year awaiting trial, indictment or mental health services

By the end of the center’s time frame, Roosevelt Jones had been held for 581 days without a trial, after his March 2016 arrest on grand larceny and aggravated assault charges.

Like Jones, many of the defendants held for the longest time awaiting trial or indictment are suspected of being violent offenders.

Jerry Lee Talley, who is accused of rape, sexual battery, robbery, kidnapping and aggravated assault for an incident in Starkville’s Cotton District in 2016, had been held for 521 days without a trial. However, the trial for Talley’s case is scheduled for the current Circuit Court term.

Deangelo Dewayne Manning had been held for 445 days on rape, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and sexual battery following his July 2016 arrest.

Jermaine Sanders had been held in the Oktibbeha County Jail for 381 days awaiting trial for a parole violation and false pretense after his September 2016 arrest in Tupelo for writing as many as 20 bad checks across the Golden Triangle.

Director of the MacArthur Justice Center Cliff Johnson estimates that his students and staff spent more than 500 hours obtaining copies of the jail rosters and creating the database.

“It should not be this hard to access information regarding who local counties have locked up, why they’re holding them, and how long they have been detained,” Johnson said. “There is no uniformity in the way sheriffs across Mississippi maintain and report this data. It took a Herculean effort by my students and our staff to make sure that people can, for the first time ever, go to a single source for this vitally important information.”

The numbers Clay County, which did not provide inmate statistic to researchers, was pulled from the Clay County Jail roster posted on the sheriff’s department’s website.

For Clay County, 40 inmates had been held for more than 90 days, while 14 inmates had been held for longer than a year as of April 17.

Tommy Gandy has been held for the longest time among Clay County inmates following his August 2014 arrest on charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping and simple assault on a police officer. As of the list date on the database, Gandy had been held for 1,335 days.

Earlier this month, though, Gandy was ruled mentally competent to stand trial and his trial date was set for July 16.

The Daily Times Leader reported that it’s taken almost four years to get Gandy’s mental examination completed.

The average stay in Clay County was reported to be 253.6 days.

As of March 6 in Lowndes County, the center showed 67 inmates had been held for 90 days or longer awaiting a trial or indictment, while 19 had been held for longer than a year.

The average stay in Lowndes County during the recording period was 151.5 days.

Webster County, with a much lower population, had only one inmate held for longer than 90 days or a year - Thomas Medders.

Medders had been held for 631 days as of April 4. Medders was arrested in July 2016 on charges of DUI resulting in a death.

Category: