Pretrial Detention Policiesin Mississippi

State Overview

The Mississippi constitution guarantees the right to bail except in limited cases.

Mississippi statute allows for the use of cash bail in most cases. The state places some limits on the length of pretrial detention, though news reports have highlighted instances of individuals remaining in jail pretrial for years. The rules of criminal procedure established by the state Supreme Court enumerate factors that must be considered when determining whether individuals should be detained pretrial. However, the guidelines also include sample bail amounts which are used as default bail schedules in some jurisdictions. Individuals are not afforded a right to appointed counsel at bail hearings, which further undermines their ability to obtain release pretrial. Mississippi’s policies could be improved by implementing evidence-based release policies that ensure detention is only used to protect individuals from a real and present danger, or ensure appearance at trial when no other means can do so. The American Bar Association’s guidelines on pretrial release provide an instructive model.


Group_21 (3)

Elimination of Cash Bail

Cash bail is authorized by statute in Mississippi for use in most cases and is still used throughout the state to guarantee pretrial release for individuals accused of a crime.

0/30 points

Group_21 (4)

Presumption of Release

Mississippi rules of criminal procedure state that individuals should be released on personal recognizance, unless the court determines that is unlikely to ensure their appearance or their release would pose a “real and present danger to others or the public at large.” However, the rule as written is confusing as it points to the use of bond, and money bail remains the default in jurisdictions. The rules could be clarified to diminish the use of money bail in most cases.

10/20 points

Group_21 (5)

Evidence-based Pretrial Detention Policies

The state’s rules of criminal procedure further require that courts impose the least onerous conditions of release. The rule requires that the court consider multiple aspects of the defendant’s situation, like their age, family situation, and previous criminal history, but some of these considerations, like the type of weapon used, are not relevant to the individual’s risk or likelihood to appear. The rule also includes sample bail amounts which can be used as a default bail schedule in many jurisdictions.

10/15 points

Group_21 (6)

Limits on Pretrial Detention

Mississippi’s rules of criminal procedure do not impose specific limits on pretrial detention, but do require circuit judges to receive jail dockets every seven days and review any conditions of release for defendants who have been incarcerated for over ninety days. State statutes impose no limitation on the amount of time an individual may be detained before they are indicted.

5/15 points

Group_21 (7)

Ability to Pay

Mississippi’s bail procedures do not make any allowances for an individual’s ability to pay bail amounts, and the use of bail schedules results in disparate outcomes based on an individual’s financial means. What might be an affordable bail amount for one person could be unattainable for another, resulting in de fact detention based on an individual’s ability to pay. Considering an individual’s financial means would ensure that people aren’t detained solely for the inability to pay.

0/10 points

Group_21 (8)

Data Collection

While the state publishes data regarding prison admissions and populations, no such data exists for jails in Mississippi, making it difficult for policymakers to evaluate the extent to which pretrial detention is used in the state, as we as its effectiveness. Implementation of a reporting requirement would better guide policymakers in this area.

0/10 points