After repeated missteps, Mississippi city makes a right move on crime

After repeated missteps, Mississippi city makes a right move on crime
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Typically when I’ve written about Jackson, Mississippi in the past its because of some anti-gun action taken by Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. From trying to unlawfully ban open carry to other unconstitutional measures like setting up checkpoints to stop and search residents without any suspicion of a crime being committed, Lumumba and far too many of his colleagues on the Jackson City Council have approached the city’s crime woes with an eye towards cracking down on the lawful exercise of a constitutionally protected right.

Finally, however, there is some good news to report. At this week’s city council meeting members unanimously approved a resolution aimed not at legal gun owners in the city, but those actually responsible for the rampant violence and shootings.

Jackson City Councilman Kenneth Stokes of Ward 3 has recommended that violent criminal cases involving felons with guns be referred to the United States Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution.

Those cases are currently being handled locally.

Stokes said in a Tuesday council meeting not long after speaking with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the council should take a broad approach.

“I feel they want to help the city with the crime issues,” Stokes said. “The constant issue that we run into is our police is significantly understaffed, which leads to what some consider as too much crime in Jackson. This particular step I believe will help the city in a powerful way.”

It’s not true, despite the claim by local media above, that no felon-in-possession cases are being referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office for federal prosecution. I found a press release from the DOJ that’s less than a month old touting the federal conviction of a man arrested by Jackson police who was charged with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

But just how many of these cases are being referred to federal prosecutors, and how many involve the violent felons that Stokes says are driving the violence across Mississippi’s capitol city? It certainly sounds like a majority of Jackson city council members think there’s an issue with the local D.A. given that they’re now calling on local prosecutors to kick more cases up to the federal level.

So far, by the way, I’ve been unable to find any reporting on Lumumba’s reaction to the council vote, though the mayor’s apparently had the time to weigh on on the death of a giraffe at the local zoo. The U.S. Attorney’s office, meanwhile, had this to say:

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said they will continue to accept prosecutable cases from the Jackson Police Department with help of federal law enforcement as well as the Hinds County District Attorney.

“As part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhood Initiative, in 2015, if not before, the United States Attorney’s office designated the City of Jackson as a site to receive federal law enforcement, prevention, outreach and prosecution assistance to combat violent crime,” The U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement. “We have and will continue to accept prosecutable cases from the Jackson Police Department with the help of our federal law enforcement partners and in collaboration with the Hinds County District Attorney.”

If the city and U.S. Attorney keep their focus on truly violent criminals and felony offenders, this strategy could actually have an impact. With the Biden administration hellbent on targeting peaceable gun owners and Jackson’s mayor always looking for a new way to infringe on the rights of residents, however, it probably won’t be long before the curbing the Second Amendment and its protections are once again the focal point of any crimefighting efforts in Jackson.