Arguably the most controversial piece of legislation introduced in the 2023 Mississippi legislative session has been signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves.
House Bill 1020, authored by Representative Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, was the subject of heated discussions in the state capitol amongst lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The bill creates an inferior court within the city of Jackson’s Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) with four judges appointed by the chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court and two prosecutors appointed by Attorney General Lynn Fitch.
In addition, Reeves signed Senate Bill 2343 granting Capitol Police primary jurisdiction over an expanded CCID. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety will be tasked with providing body cameras for Capital Police officers.
“Jackson has to be better. Downtown Jackson should be so safe that it is a magnet for talented young people to come and live and work and create,” Reeves said. “This legislation won’t solve the entire problem, but if we can stop one shooting; if we can respond to one more 911 call — then we’re one step closer to a better Jackson. I refuse to accept the status quo. As long as I’m Governor, the state will keep fighting for safer streets for every Mississippian no matter their politics, race, creed, or religion — regardless of how we’re portrayed by liberal activists or in the national media.”
Those in favor of HB 1020 say that the bill’s intent is to curb crime while reducing backlogs in Mississippi’s capital city. Meanwhile, opponents continue to argue that the legislation is not only unconstitutional but an attempt by white lawmakers to control the Blackest major city in the U.S.
“Jackson is experiencing an unprecedented epidemic of crime. The capital city is approximately six percent of Mississippi’s population yet, in 2020, accounted for more than 50 percent of the homicides in our state,” Reeves stated. “We have a crippling problem with violent crime in our capital city. We’re working to address it. And when we do, we’re met with overwhelming false cries of racism and mainstream media who falsely call our actions ‘Jim Crow.'”
House Minority Leader Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, has previously made it clear that he expects the legislation to face litigation.