As the Muscogee County jail population has risen. So has community concern.
Thursday afternoon Chief Superior Court Judge Gil McBride turned his courtroom into a meeting room for court officials, law enforcement, prosecutors and community activists.
More than 70 people attended, and the meeting lasted more than two hours. Representatives from the NAACP and other community organizations peppered the public officials with questions about overcrowding, the reasons, and the possible solutions.
Here are the facts:
— There are more than 1,100 inmates in the jail on any given day.
— Of those, 70 are facing murder charges.
— Nearly half are identified as gang members.
— And more than 400 have diagnosed mental health issues.
— There were nearly 2,500 more arrests in 2018 than there were in 2017.
National NAACP board member Edward DuBose praised the conversation, saying it as like the one that started in 2015.
“Here is what we have to get to, even though we all had a chance to be heard: until the jail population is reduced, until we find a better way of dealing with people who have been arrested in some cases, we are not going find an answer because we are just going to be going in circles,” DuBose said.
McBride said it was a productive discussion that needs to continue toward resolutions.
“We also learned there has been a sharp increase in arrests,” McBride said. “So, you simply have more people coming into the jail. And I guess the third thing I learned is without pretrial release, home confinement, and rapid resolution – all of those being before trial that we would probably be looking at a much, much higher jail population than we have now.”
The meeting was attended by Superior Court Judge Ron Mullins, District Attorney Julia Slater, Sheriff Donna Tompkins and members of the other agencies that touch or are a part of the criminal justice system.