Deep budget cuts have put the Mississippi judicial system into a financial crisis, reports the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, raising concerns about the system’s ability to protect the public, prosecute cases, and keep criminals behind bars. County district attorneys say cuts could stall hundreds of criminal cases across the state. Judges have expressed concerns about the fate of young offenders if lawmakers close the state’s only juvenile detention facility. Mentally ill people could end up in emergency rooms and county jails if the state shutters mental hospitals, officials said.
County sheriffs say the trickle-down effect places a heavy burden on county and municipal law enforcement. Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson said he’s trying to find ways to reduce spending without disrupting the work of narcotics agents, criminal investigators and state troopers. In a recent article for Mississippi Lawyer magazine, Mississippi Chief Justice Bill Waller said budget woes “have produced a financial crisis in Mississippi’s court system.”