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Hinds Jail Detainee Dies After 18 Months Awaiting Trial, As DA Touts Diversion Programs

Yet another detainee has died while awaiting trial in the Hinds County Detention Center for 18 months, officials confirmed Monday. The death comes just weeks after Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens touted his office’s efforts to move more cases from trial and into diversion programs to, in part, reduce the length of time people are detained in the jail without going to trial.

At a Jan. 25 press conference, District Attorney Jody Owens said his focus is on diversion in which offenders may have to finish rehabilitation programs, pay restitution, and meet other conditions to avoid being charged with a crime. He said it is meant to help people who have committed “smaller crimes” avoid getting felony charges.

“Usually, when you see someone who has committed a violent crime, that’s not the first crime that’s been committed. Crime builds up; the same is true of drug usage,” he added in response to a question from the Mississippi Fress Press on the diversion program. “So we can find those individuals early on and try to help them; we can certainly impact (them).”

“What’s most important for us—which is why we indict felonies out here every day—we know the impact it has on individuals, so we can keep somebody from being in that system.”

Of 1,017 felony cases resolved in 2022, the district attorney resolved 42% in diversion programs; 45% resulted in felony convictions; and 13% ended in dismissals, with 42% of the 1,017 felony cases disposed of in 2022 being sent there, compared to 45% resulting in felony convictions and 13% being dismissed.

Latest Death at Hinds County Detention Facility

Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones told the Mississippi Free Press on Tuesday that about 600 detainees are awaiting trial at the Hinds County Detention Center. They are legally innocent until proven otherwise in court, but have long been forced to wait many months and often years in jail before going to trial.

The facility was under a consent decree from 2016 to 2022 over dangerous conditions there. In December 2022, the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals halted a federal district

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