An amended version of a bill that has been the center of attention and controversy among leaders in Mississippi’s capital city has passed the Senate and been sent back to the House for further consideration.
During a Wednesday interview on The Gallo Show, Senator Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, explained that he and some of his Republican colleagues reached out to members of the Jackson delegation and the Black Caucus to restructure House Bill 1020.
The legislation initially served to enact a court system within the Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) that would operate separately from the Hinds County Court and expand the CCID to cover a larger land mass which would be under the exclusive jurisdiction of state-funded Capitol Police.
Under the amended version of HB 1020, five special judges funded by the state would hold temporary positions to reduce the backlog of court cases in Jackson. Three would hear both civil and criminal cases, while two will exclusively hear criminal cases. The judges would hold their positions until 2026.
Moreover, the state would fund three additional assistant prosecutors who would serve full-time positions. Hinds County would also be able to hire more prosecutors, which will be paid by the legislature until 2026.
The Senate struck the portion of the original bill that selectively expanded the jurisdiction of the CCID. Instead, under the amended version of the legislation, Capitol Police will have jurisdiction throughout the entire city. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety, the Jackson Police Department , and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office would have the opportunity to reach a memorandum of understanding and work jointly throughout the capital city.
“When it came to the Senate, we took that out for various reasons, and then what we said is that the capitol police jurisdiction will extend throughout the whole city of Jackson, whereas their whole jurisdiction was only extending to the CCID,” Wiggins added.
In order to add an element of transparency to the expanded police force, the Senate proposed a measure that would require Capitol Police officers to wear body cameras and to have cameras attached to their stationed vehicles.
Wiggins says the Senate didn’t kill the bill, but instead worked to improve it because lawmakers are working to find viable solutions to make Mississippi’s capital city a safer place.
“I think people need to realize the legislature is stepping forward to try to get Jackson in a place that we can all be proud of, and to be honest, that the headline isn’t the city’s the murder capital of the country,” Wiggins said.
The House is not anticipated to pass the same version of the HB 1020, meaning the legislation will likely end up in a conference committee for lawmakers in both chambers to work out any differences in the bill.
Watch the full interview with Wiggins below.