Mississippi Court Records
The Mississippi State Prison System
The Mississippi Department of Corrections(MDOC) oversees and manages the Mississippi correctional system. The prison system is made up of city, county, state, private, and regional correctional detention facilities. It is an integral part of the Mississippi criminal justice system that ensures that alleged offenders in the state are disciplined by sanctioning their illegal or criminal acts. Additionally, the system is concerned with rehabilitating and reforming the offenders to deter them from a life of crime.
What is the Difference Between Jail and Prison in Mississippi?
Jails and prisons in Mississippi are holding facilities for criminals of the law, but they are considerably different in their order of operations.
Mostly, a jail in Mississippi is usually located in a county or city. It is where individuals arrested for committing crimes are detained until they make bail, go to trial or accept a plea deal from the district attorney’s office. However, offenders in prisons are usually confined to these facilities for a more extended period to serve out their sentence, which is usually over one year.
Therefore, most individuals in a county or city jail are not always convicted criminals unless convicted of minor and non-violent misdemeanors. Most inmates in this situation are usually confined to the jail to serve for just one year or less.
Because jail is simply a holding facility for defendants with short sentences, they do not usually offer correctional or rehabilitative services to the inmates. In contrast, prisons are designed for more extended stays to discipline and rehabilitate offenders at the same time. Hence, they usually offer services such as religious programs, alcohol & drug treatment, adult primary education, mental health programs, anger management programs, etc.
In summary, a Mississippi jail is mostly a detention facility and not a correctional facility for offenders like a state prison.
How Many Prisons are in Mississippi?
The Mississippi Prison System constitutes 3 state prisons and 5 federal prisons. They include:
- Central Mississippi Correctional Facility
- Mississippi State Penitentiary
- South Mississippi Correctional Institution
- Correctional Institution Adams County (CI Adams County)
- United States Penitentiary Yazoo City (USP Yazoo City)
- Federal Correctional Institution Yazoo City Medium Security Prison(FCI Yazoo City Medium)
- Federal Correctional Institution Yazoo City Low-Security Prison (FCI Yazoo City Low)
- Federal Correctional Institution Yazoo City Camp (FCI Yazoo City Camp)
How do I search for an Inmate in Mississippi State Prison?
The public body that regulates the operations of prisons in Mississippi is the Department of Corrections. The department maintains a detailed roster of every inmate in the prison system. Through its Inmate Search Tool, it eases the process of locating an inmate amongst thousands of others. Also, asides from locational information, it provides other information on the inmates:
- Inmate’s personal information (name, date of birth, and gender)
- Location (facility)
- Registration or Identity number
- Transfer details
The user must provide the inmate’s full name the inmate or the inmate’s designated ID number to use this tool. Alternatively, a criminal record also provides details of an individual’s interaction with the state justice system. This includes information on arrests, convictions, and even incarcerations. Therefore, inquirers seeking information can contact the Mississippi Department of Public Safety(MDPS). Notwithstanding, the individual institutions maintain all information relating to inmates of the state prisons in Mississippi.
Are Incarceration Records Public in Mississippi?
Pursuant to the Mississippi Open Records Act (Miss. Code Ann. § 25–61–1), requestors can access inmate’s records upon request. According to the law, the state’s policy mandates that records maintained by public agencies must be made available for review and inspection on request unless otherwise provided by law. Therefore, incarceration records maintained by every institution that constitutes the state prison system are public records.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How to Look Up Jail Records in Mississippi?
Records of inmates incarcerated in Mississippi jails are accessible by using the Inmate Search Tool of the Mississippi Department of Corrections website. Besides, the 82 counties in Mississippi have local jails with online searchable features that display data on inmates detained in these facilities.
For example, in Southwest Mississippi, Adams County has a local jail operated and monitored by the county sheriff. The sheriff’s office maintains an online list of the inmates in their custody. Searches on this platform show information such as:
- Inmate’s full name
- Physical description
- Inmate’s booking number and photo
- Arresting agency
- Booking date
- Court date
- Bail or bond amount
Alternatively, information about incarcerated persons in Mississippi jails is maintained by the institutions. Hence, requesters can contact the jail officers directly for more details.
Can Jail Records be Expunged in Mississippi?
Arrest and conviction records usually have adverse effects on an individual’s record. They may prevent the individual from opportunities such as owning a professional license, receiving a loan, or leasing an apartment. An expungement order in Mississippi hides a record from public view by restricting access to it. However, they remain visible to law enforcement agencies for investigative purposes.
According to state expungement statutes (Mississippi Codes, Title 99–15), the state courts have the authority to expunge arrest records where the individual was not convicted and records of misdemeanors with conviction. Typically, the law enforcement agency that makes an arrest keeps a record of every contact the individual has with the justice system. Hence, even if the individual is found “not guilty” and the charges are dismissed, there will still be a record of the arrest on the individual’s criminal record. However, under state law, these records, along with certain misdemeanor records, can be expunged. Most misdemeanor offenses can only be expunged if it is the offender’s first offense.
To expunge these records, the law states that the individual may petition the court for an expungement order to remove records of the event from all public records. The court will only grant this petition if it determines that the individual is rehabilitated. Eventually, the order will be served on other appropriate officials in the case, then the record will be expunged from all computerized databases and destroyed completely.