The MacArthur Justice Center, the ACLU and the ACLU of Mississippi filed a class action lawsuit against Scott County (Mississippi) sheriff, district attorney, and judges after learning that the Scott County Detention Center has held people for as long as a year without appointing counsel and without indicting them.
A settlement was reached in June 2018 which ended this practice by appointing public defenders at arrest. The settlement also required Scott, Neshoba, Newton, and Leake counties to hire a chief public defender — a rarity for rural Mississippi – to supervise public defenders and ensure they are no longer at the whim of the judges.
In Mississippi there is no limit on how long a person can be held in jail before the prosecution obtains an indictment. As a result, our clients languished in jail because a local judge set cash bail at amounts neither could afford, and they had no attorney to argue for their release.