Council Approves Budget to Pay for Jacksonsians Arrested for Misdemeanors to be Housed in Holmes County Detention and Yazoo County Detention.

In July, Jackson residents provided a five page list of recommendations to the City Council asking for funding for more mental health programs, affordable housing, job programs, youth programs, garden programs, water support, and infrastructure development.  Instead of meeting the people’s recommendations, in October, the Jackson City Council approved to spend a half a million dollars from COVID CARE Funds for the arrest of Jacksonians on misdemeanor offenses and then their detention in Yazoo County and Holmes County.  The Jackson City Council agreed to pay Yazoo County and Holmes County $25-$37 a day to detain Jackson residents arrested for Misdemeanors. These misdemeanor charges can include and are not limited to driving recklessly, discharging your weapon in the air, driving without a license, shoplifting, fighting (assault), and any misdemeanor the arresting police officer believes to be harmful to the public. Many Jackson residents strongly believe that these funds could be better used by addressing the root causes of violence which is lack of stable employment, housing, mental health support, and additional academic support for our children and JPS.

Across the nation the COVID pandemic has caused violence to rise across the nation, especially in communities like Jackson, where poverty is high.  24% of Jackson residents live below the federal poverty rate. To compound the problem, the COVID pandemic stripped pay checks from residents that depended on them, forcing residents to live in close quarters for extended periods of time. The uncertainty of when life will get back to normal has caused many mothers, fathers, and children unprecedented stress, leaving us all short tempered. Moreover, many of us are suffering through boredom, unable to engage in our normal social scenes. Thus, our response as a City, must meet the needs of our people.  The need is not to arrest and jail residents that are in need of mental health support.  It is not to jail a child up that shot in the air.  Instead we need to increase youth programs that children can engage in so that they are not bored. The solution is to provide residents with social support to get past our stress, boredom and uncertainty.

The City Council’s decision to arrest people on misdemeanor charges and to detain them far away from their families while they await trial, will separate mothers, fathers and children for crimes of poverty.  It will not prevent more harm from happening but instead increase the likelihood that more violence will spread. Statistics show that after being detained only once in their life, the income earning capacity of youth decreases by half, meaning youth that experience even a short jail period are likely to earn 50% less than a youth that did not experience detention.  We must not rely on jail detention to solve the problems of our youth.

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