By: Amber Montoya & Ethan An June 12, 2023
February 7th, 2023 in Jackson Mississippi, a House Bill meant to create a state-appointed court system within a new judicial district passed in the state House of Representatives 76-38. The judicial district, created under the Capitol Complex Improvement District, would be responsible for overseeing criminal and court cases. The creator of the bill, Republican Trey Lamar, expressed his fear over how slowly court cases over the years had been solved. Jackson already surpassed all other major cities in the nation with the highest homicide rates in the United States. Therefore, the bill was proposed to allegedly address the rising crime rate in Jackson, increase policing within the new district, and divert tax money from communities that need them.
Though supported by right-wing politicians, Democrats and the black population of Jackson have different feelings on the matter. They point out the alarming fact that the new district would increase policing for 80% of the white communities and only 20% of the black communities. To many black citizens, they have come out and said it feels like a Jim Crow regime all over again with the protection of mostly white citizens. But, what terrifies them the most, is the lack of ability to choose which judges, prosecutors, and public defenders would be in charge of the criminal cases. Republican Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Randolph and Attorney General Lynn Fitch, both white, would be the ones appointing prosecutors. In the city of Jackson, for years citizens normally voted on their political figures, however, with the bill, this would no longer be their voting choice for the new district. The HB 1020 has sparked much outcry from black leaders and community members as they emphasize that Jackson has an 80% or more black population according to the U.S. Census Bureau that are being denied their rights.
In response to the backlash, the Times released a statement on how Lamar and his team emphasize that the bill is in fact not racist and would not affect the African American population since 55% of the people in the district would be black themselves. Despite Lamar and his team working to try and soothe the worries of Jackson’s democratic and black population, once the bill hit the Senate in March and April, it was pointed out that the bill’s language and overall intentions needed to change. The new version of the bill had been slightly modified but still included a newly appointed judicial district, expansion of the Capitol Complex Improvement District, and the main communities involved remained white communities. It still lacked approval from the black community of Jackson as it had little to no improvements and continues to strip them from their democratic right.
Brown, Justin Gamble,Jalen. “Mississippi House Votes to Create an Unelected, State-Appointed Court System within Majority-Black Jackson.” CNN, 14 Feb. 2023, www.cnn.com/2023/02/14/us/mississippi-jackson-unelected-court-system-vote-reaj/index.html
“House Bill 1020 - Voter Disenfranchisement and Police State Practices | ACLU of Mississippi.”
Laughl, Oliver, et al. “Revealed: Mississippi Bill Would Carve out Separate Judicial District for 80% of White Residents in Majority-Black City.” The Guardian,
Jackson, Courtney Ann. “House Bill 1020 Gets Changed When It Reaches Senate Committee, Has Long Legislative Road Ahead.” Https://Www.wlbt.com, 25 Feb. 2023, www.wlbt.com/2023/02/25/house-bill-1020-gets-changed-when-it-reaches-senate-committee-has-long-legislative-road-ahead/ Accessed 30 May 2023.
Corpuz, Mina. “Another Stay Blocks Law to Create a Separate Court in Jackson.” Mississippi Today, 12 May 2023,
mississippitoday.org/2023/05/12/federal-judge-blocks-hb-1020-from-becoming-law/ Accessed 30 May 2023.