Court overhaul needed to fight Jackson crime

A chronic myopia cripples Jackson. The one problem most people immediately think of when one mentions Jackson is crime. How do we reduce crime?

The average person or most people in high positions will say, “More police!”

However, the criminal justice system consists of three pillars: law enforcement, courts and corrections. It is like a three-legged stool. If one leg is missing or broken, the structure collapses.

Why have Jackson citizens and politicians for so long paid excessive attention to law enforcement but so little constructive and long-term attention to the other two criminal justice system pillars? Why is law enforcement given sole culpability for the frequency and severity of crime in Jackson?

Holding only one third of the criminal justice system accountable has crippled Jackson.

Enforce standards fairly

Crime is not a result of complacent Jackson police officers. Jackson police arrest many criminals every day for misdemeanors and felonies. Many motivated officers work tirelessly to arrest criminals, but other criminal justice system officials undermine their efforts.

Why do criminals continually do their deeds in Jackson instead of spreading them more evenly throughout the tri-county area?

Criminals regularly tell Jackson police they will not go to Rankin or Madison County because they know that, once arrested, they will not see freedom for quite some time. In Jackson, once arrested, they are accustomed to a weak court system that consistently imposes less severe penalties than neighboring court systems.

Repeat offenders get ridiculously light penalties, and are released far too soon to, again, victimize citizens.

The Jackson court system has, for far too long, gotten a free ride. Significant court system figures are not held accountable for lackadaisical and poor performance. One may gauge performance by comparing great disparities between how courts work in Jackson and neighboring areas. Madison recently issued a $1 million bond in an aggravated assault case. Why doesn’t Jackson impose the same penalties as or higher penalties than our neighbors?

Make entire system work

When will citizens demand Jackson courts run along tight and professional standards such as those in the rest of the tri-county area? Do Jackson officials have the integrity to recognize and effectively deal with a serious problem? Or shall we simply keep posturing?

Jackson’s criminals boldly commit acts with little regard for consequences. This fearlessness makes them increasingly dangerous to officers who repeatedly deal with them. I, personally, hold accountable those in charge of the court system when officers are injured or killed by offenders who have committed heinous acts and are repeatedly released.

All levels of city leadership and management that have consistently failed to recognize and deal with this problem are responsible for the current mess. Ignorance of the system is not an excuse. If I can identify it, anyone can.

We can beef up the department in numbers of officers, quantity and quality of training, and with modern equipment. Those are good directions, but alone are insufficient for the whole system to functionally operate.

If pro-active, consistent, results-oriented attention is not directed toward a major overhaul of Jackson courts, there will be no sustainable improvement in the City’s crime problem. The citizens of Jackson should support the new administration in this direction.