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Jackson’s New Gamble Against Crime

Plus, an update on appointing the judge lawmakers said was urgently needed at the Capitol.

This is The Marshall Project - Jackson’s newsletter, a monthly digest of criminal justice news from around Mississippi gathered by our staff of local journalists. Want this delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to future newsletters.

Will youth centers curb youth crime in Jackson?

After a 17-year-old was charged with the murder of 14-year-old Eugene Kelly, Jackson passed a youth curfew ordinance. Coupled with what they call “youth engagement centers,” the curfew aims to curb youth violence by getting kids off the streets after 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.

Ideally, these centers would give youth something to do and keep them out of potentially dangerous situations. However, youth advocates in Jackson say they’re skeptical. And academic research shows that curfews do not stop crime.

Although studies have shown a decrease in the rate of violent crime by youths under 18, the perception of youth-related violence has remained a political concern across the nation. Jackson officials have implemented multiple curfews over the decades. Less than a month into this summer, 18-year-old Daivion Myles was killed and four teens, including a 13-year-old girl, were charged with his murder.

Since violence rises for all age groups in the summer, cities like Jackson, Baltimore and Philadelphia are unveiling similar summer strategies for young people. The Marshall Project - Jackson talked to youth advocates and leaders in Baltimore and Philadelphia about how they created similar youth centers. Read the story to learn what we found.

State officials moving slowly on unelected “Capitol Complex” court in Jackson

For months, legal challenges blocked the creation of local judgeships in Jackson that would be controlled by state officials, not local voters in Mississippi’s Black-majority capital city.

But now, six months after winning the go-ahead from a federal court, state officials have taken no public action to actually create the state-controlled local court that proponents said would ease the burdened justice system in Mississippi’s largest city.

“There’s not a specific time frame, but sooner rather than later is what we were all shooting for,” independent state Rep. Shanda Yates, who represents part of Jackson, told a local newspaper.

In 2023, Mississippi’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed House Bill 1020 over opposition from most of Jackson’s legislative delegation. Opponents said it took power away from Jackson’s voters, most of whom are Black.

Different coalitions of Jackson residents and civil rights organizations sued in state and federal courts to block the law.

One lawsuit produced a victory for HB 1020’s opponents. The Mississippi Supreme Court tossed out part of the law that would have created additional circuit court judges in Hinds County to be appointed by the chief justice of the Mississippi high court, not elected by local voters.

The state Supreme Court allowed a part of HB 1020 to stand. That section of the law created a new “inferior court” within a part of Jackson called the Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID). This inferior court will work much like a municipal court. Felony cases in Mississippi originally work through lower courts before ending up in felony circuit courts. The lower, or “inferior,” court judges set a defendant’s initial bond, assign a public defender if needed, and preside over a probable cause hearing if a defendant requests one.

Unlike Jackson’s municipal court judges and prosecutors, the judges and prosecutors of the inferior CCID court will not be accountable to local municipal authorities, but only to the state Supreme Court’s chief justice and the state attorney general. That means those living and traveling through the CCID section of Jackson are subject to the authority of judges they can’t elect or vote against.

HB 1020 called for the creation of this inferior CCID court in January.

A spokesperson for the state Supreme Court confirmed that no judges have been appointed to the CCID court, and no staff has been hired. The spokesperson said no additional information is available about when the court will be set up.

Mississippi Court Elections: Send us your questions for the candidates

Come November, you will have the chance to determine who serves on the Mississippi courts. Up for election this year are two seats on the state Supreme Court, one seat on the Court of Appeals, and in Hinds County, one county court judgeship. These courts make vital decisions that impact the lives of Mississippians. Those elected to judicial offices hand down hundreds of decisions each year about criminal convictions, civil rights and the law.

At The Marshall Project - Jackson, we’re committed to providing you with the facts before you cast your vote. That’s why we’re putting together an election guide to help you navigate the 2024 judicial elections.

We want to hear from you. What do you want to know about each candidate? What would you ask them if you had the chance? Share your thoughts and questions with us here, anonymously.

Send us your story tips!

If you’ve experienced or witnessed something in the criminal justice system that you think we should look into further, contact us through this form or All tips are confidential.