Grand jury issues 388 indictments Panel inspects county-owned facilities

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
March 27, 2001
After hearing four days of case presentation and interviewing 74 witness, the Lauderdale County grand jury has returned 388 indictments.
They declined to issue indictments in 14 cases.
Lauderdale County District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell said the March grand jury session proceeded smoothly. His office presented 299 cases March 19-23. Cases ranged from one murder case to aggravated assaults, armed robberies, felony bad check, drug cases, motor vehicle thefts, burglaries, credit card frauds, embezzlements, kidnappings, DUIs and sex offenses.
Grand jury members toured the Lauderdale County Juvenile Center, the Mississippi Crime Lab and East Mississippi State Hospital. Grand jury tours of the Lauderdale County Detention Facility and the Lauderdale County Courthouse are mandatory.
The Lauderdale County Detention Facility received a thumbs-up from jury members, who commended Sheriff Billy Sollie for his facility's Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, GED program, clergy program and rehabilitation programs. The overall condition of the jail was found to be "clean and well-kept," according to a grand jury report.
Needed at the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department is more office space for investigators and more deputies for patrolling roads, the report said. Also needed is an upgraded camera system, audio system and repainting of the exterior of the jail.
Jurors cited poor conditions in the Lauderdale County Juvenile Center, such as a falling ceiling in the boys' shower room and inadequate air-conditioning. Also needed are additional staff and more cells to reduce overcrowding.
A grand jury report said more space is needed in the Lauderdale County Courthouse for the district attorney's office, Worthless Check Division, and the Chancery Court office. Computers in the tax assessor's office need to be upgraded and additional stations are needed there to better accommodate the public, the report said.
A grand jury report on East Mississippi State Hospital cited a need for more funding to complete renovation projects. Overall, the hospital was found to be clean and in good condition.
The grand jury found no problems with the Mississippi Crime Lab and cited the staff as "knowledgeable."
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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