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Public defenders office provides data on savings generated for county

During their Monday (July 1, 2019) meeting, the Pearl River County Office of the Public Defenders addressed the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors with some good news.

Circuit Court Judge Prentiss Harrell (pictured left), stated that out of the 5 counties that the 15th Circuit Court District covers, Pearl River County had the highest case load of felony criminal offenses, however, the total inmate count has dropped every year since 2016 from 2,561 to approximately 1,560 in 2019.

According to Chief Public Defender, Lindsay Watts, Pearl River County has seen significant savings of tax-payer money due to the efforts of the Public Defenders Office making bail hearings in a much more timely manner, thus reducing the number of days accused offenders spend in jail awaiting their day in court. In 2016, a total of 76,901 days were spent in jail by inmates compared to 27,858 days in 2019.

Lindsay Watts (center) presenting information during Monday's meeting

According to numbers provided to Watts by the county jail, each inmate costs the county $38.63 every day while incarcerated. The difference between the peak in 2016, to the projected totals for 2019, are 48,252 days. That reduction in total days spent in jail will save taxpayers $1,863,975.00. Certain accused felony offenders saw their initial appearance within 48 hours and spent an average of 17 days in jail awaiting their bail hearings.

The Supervisors commended the Public Defenders Office for their hard work in making these savings possible.


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