Miss. inmates spending years in jail without being indicted

Hardly a new problem but the Clarion Ledger has this story today.  The story highlights the plight of  Octavious Burks who has spent nearly three years in jail since 2009.  The first time, he was arrested for agg. assault and disturbing the peace.  He was held for nearly 16 months and eventually indicted but the charges were eventually dismissed.  In 2012, he spent nearly a year on a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon for which he was never indicted.  More recently, “he has spent 10 months in jail, now charged with attempted armed robbery, possession of a weapon by a felon, disorderly conduct, and possession of paraphernalia. Again, there has been no indictment.”:

“This is another poor man’s curse in Mississippi,” said J. Cliff Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law. “It sounds like something that happens in a Third World country.”

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi and the MacArthur Justice Center filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Burks and another man against Scott County officials, saying the men have been “indefinitely denied counsel.”

The NYT has a more in-depth story here.

If a defendant applies for indigent defense, as Mr. Burks did on the day of his arrest in November, the senior circuit judge, Marcus D. Gordon, generally approves the request. But it is the judge’s policy not to appoint a public defense lawyer until a person is indicted. And there is no state law setting a time limit on detention before an indictment.

(My boyfriend took the photos for the NYT story)

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