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Judge sees little change in crime

In spite of some recent events, Circuit Judge Mike Taylor saidcrime levels in Brookhaven and Lincoln County remain about thesame. But the judge also expressed concerns about statebudget-related actions that are allowing criminals back on thestreet.

Speaking Wednesday to the Brookhaven Kiwanis Club, Taylor saidindictment levels indicate no significant increase in felony crimein Brookhaven and Lincoln County. He acknowledged some recentcrime, including a downtown shooting and a year-old unsolved countydeath case.

“The overall picture is that the numbers are about the same,”Taylor said.

Taylor said there are about 500 felony indictments each year inLincoln County. Of those, the majority – more than 250 – are childsupport or felony bad checks, with the next group beingdrug-related and followed by a “significant, but not enormous”number of burglaries, robberies or violent crimes.

Taylor and fellow Circuit Judge David Strong oversee the 14thCircuit Court District that includes Lincoln, Pike and Walthallcounties.

Cases are assigned to the judges on a random basis, Taylor said.He also discussed how they are handled and resolved.

“They majority of them are resolved by pleas,” Taylor said.

Countering the contention by some that all cases should go totrial, Taylor said it can cost $2,500 just to summons a jury. Hesaid it would not be a good use of county resources to spend thaton jury trials.

Budget-related concerns on another level were also part ofTaylor’s talk.

Due to the state’s budget picture, Taylor said there are”several thousand” more inmates released now than there were atthis time last year. He also mentioned increased use of housearrest or earned release supervision for prisoners.

“They’re still counted as part of the census of the prisons, butthey show up with us and not with them,” Taylor said.

Taylor recalled legislative passage of the 85 percent rule thatrequired prisoners to serve that minimum before being eligible forrelease. However, with education and Medicaid taking the lion’sshare of the state budget, he indicated that rule wasunsustainable.

“Everything else there’s just not a lot that can be cut withoutseeing the difference,” Taylor said.

The judge was prohibited from discussing any pending cases thatcould come before him later. However, he was able to relay severalhumorous stories about concluded cases and tales related to jurysummonses.

Taylor encouraged club members to be interested in jurysummonses if they are ever selected via the random process. Thejudge said trials need responsible people to serve on juries.

“If you have a case or your business has a case, you don’t wantit decided by 12 people who have nothing better to do on aTuesday,” Taylor said.