Almost one in five inmates in Mississippi’s Hinds County spends long periods of time in jail before their charges are presented to a grand jury for indictment, reports the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. The jail roster for a single “snapshot” day in August showed 18 percent of inmates – 139 in all – were not indicted within three months of their arrests. Of those 139 inmates, 60 still have not been indicted, despite spending months, a year or longer in jail. Randy Walker spent 106 days in jail on a firearm charge, but he was never convicted of the crime. He was never indicted in the first place. Walker was first arrested and charged with possession of a stolen firearm in August 2014. He bonded out but was arrested again on the same charge eight months later.
Walker had a public defender, but months after his arrest, the only information he’d heard on his case was from a corrections officer, who told him he would have to stay in jail until he was indicted. “It’s like I’m just doing dead time,” he wrote in one letter. “My family is struggling and needs my help.” A year after he was initially charged and 106 days after his arrest, Walker was released from jail on his own recognizance. In January, Michael Bradley was arrested for possession of crystal meth, but nine months later he has not been indicted. He can’t afford his $5,000 bond. In May, his public defender filed a writ of habeas corpus that alleges unlawful imprisonment, arguing Bradley is indigent. The attorney asked the judge to lower the bond to $1,000. Two months later, Judge Melvin Priester denied both the bond reduction and the request to release Bradley on his own recognizance.