Held in Jail in American Forever Without Charges or Guilt? Yes, in Mississippi.

I can say for certain the grass is not greener on the other side.  At least not for us Californian's when we think about our criminal justice system as compared to Mississippi's system.  Apparently, in Mississippi, a person can be held indefinitely in jail without being formally charged of a crime, with no attorney, and no proof of guilt after a trial.

According to an interesting ACLU article I read, in Mississippi, a person can be held in jail until the time a formal indictment is filed.  The problem arises, though, because the grand jury that issues indictments only meets a couple times a year.  So, there are many in Mississipi who have to wait around in jail (if they cannot post bail) until the grand jury gets around to indicting them.  Many states and the federal system use the indictment process to bring formal charges but no other system allows the process to go on without a timeframe.  Usually, the indictment or other formal charging document must be brought within days and weeks at the latest.  Not so in Mississippi.


Scott County Jail, Mississippi  inmate

The ACLU story writes from the perspective of Octavious Burks, who is an inmate in Scott County, Mississippi that has been waiting in jail there for over ten months without ever being charged.  He has not been allowed to speak with an attorney either. This happened to him twice before and has spent a total of three years in the jail there without being charged and without being proven guilty of having committed any crime.  In his two prior cases, he was never formally charged.

Octavious Burks has been waiting for 10 months.

"That's how it works in Scott County: No one gets a public defender until they've been indicted. In other places, this might not be a big deal. In Colorado, prosecutors have 72 hours after an arrest to formally indict someone. In Kansas, it's two weeks. But in Scott County and throughout Mississippi, the wait could last forever. That's because Mississippi doesn't limit how long a prosecutor has to indict someone, even if that someone is wasting away in jail."

I agree with the ACLU in regards to Octavious's constitutional rights.  He is entitled to an attorney, he is entitled to a speedy trial, he is entitled to due process. He has been deprived of these rights.  The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit against his jailers and I support their stance.