Calling it “truly unprecedented,” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has obtained $3.5 million in federal grant money to bolster the criminal justice system in Jackson, reports the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. “To have a secure capital city,” he said, “is absolutely essential.” The money is from a federal grant intended to help Mississippi with its post-Katrina law enforcement problems.
This grant will fund a new judge, two new prosecutors, one public defender, and the joining of officers and deputies from the Jackson police and Hinds County sheriff’s departments into a task force with state law enforcement agents designed to ferret out “the worst of the worst” criminals in the city. The money will last only two years, officials said, but they characterized that as enough time to get a handle on Jackson’s crime problem. Barbour noted that the point of the task force is not to arrest “thousands and thousands” of petty criminals but to go after the small percentage of serious criminals experts say are typically responsible for the majority of crimes. The Clarion-Ledger reported last week that there is a backlog of about 4,000 cases in Hinds County.