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Lawmakers pass bills expanding court system, police force in Jackson

Capitol Police
Photo courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety

Mississippi lawmakers passed arguably the most controversial bill of the 2023 legislative session on Friday.

Legislators sent House Bill 1020, authored by Representative Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, and Senate Bill 2343, authored by Senator Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, to the governor. The legislation serves to add more judges to clear the backlog of crime in Jackson and expand the jurisdiction of Capitol Police.

House Bill 1020 will provide four additional judges to the Seventh Circuit Court District. Each will be appointed by Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Randolph.

Three additional full-time assistant public defenders will be appointed by the district’s public defender, and Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens will be able to appoint two full-time assistant district attorneys as well as one full-time criminal investigator.

Attorney General Lynn Fitch will designate two individuals to operate as prosecuting attorneys for cases within the boundaries of the CCID. The CCID’s inferior court will have jurisdiction to hear any criminal cases that occur within its expanded boundaries.

Capitol Police will have jurisdiction over the CCID and the Mississippi Department of Safety will be tasked with providing body cameras for Capital Police officers.

Proponents of the bills find the legislation to be a step in the right direction of reducing the backlog of criminal cases in Jackson while making Mississippi’s capital city safer.

Those in opposition believe the legislation is an attempt by white lawmakers to control a capital city in the U.S. with a majority Black population.


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