Two men who have been in Mississippi’s Hinds County Detention Center for seven years and eight years without going to trial had known mental health issues when they were incarcerated.

They are among nearly 130 inmates have been in the detention center for at least a year without trial. 

From the Clarion-Ledger: 

Marktain Kilpatrick Simmons, 43, was jailed in November 2006 in the stabbing death of Christopher Joiner. Joiner had plans to make a quick run to the grocery store, family members said. But while standing with a companion in the parking lot on the west side of the complex, they were approached by a man, allegedly Simmons, demanding money, witnesses told police.

Simmons then allegedly brandished a knife and stabbed Joiner, Sgt. Jeffery Scott said at the time. After the stabbing, the suspect chased Joiner’s friend but couldn’t catch him, Scott said. The suspect then ran to Houston Avenue and allegedly tried to rob a male who had just gotten out of basketball practice at Provine High, Scott said. The male fought him off, suffering some minor cuts and bruises, he said.

On Dec. 11, 2006, Hinds County Judge Bill Gowan denied bond for Simmons and said he wouldn’t consider bond for him until he knew more about the suspect’s history of mental problems. Hinds County Sheriff’s Department records at the time showed Simmons was arrested in 2003 on a lunacy-dangerous complaint. His 2005 arrest was for a lunacy nondangerous charge. Simmons was last released from the State Hospital at Whitfield in July 2005, court records show.

Jail records show Lee Vernel Knight, 47, has been in the Raymond facility since December 2007, accused in the Christmas Day stabbing death of his brother, Michael Palmer. Palmer was stabbed once in the chest. Police said then that the incident was a domestic dispute.

Knight, like Simmons, had been known to have mental health issues.

Read more at the Clarion-Ledger

Knight had been committed to Whitfield after his mother complained in August 2006. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and was referred to Hinds Behavioral Health Services in Jackson for treatment.

Jackson police called the stabbing a “domestic altercation,” but the reports were disputed by the family. Court records said Knight’s mother complained that her son had threatened her with a bat and thought people were trying to hurt him.

Knight was committed to Whitfield in June 2013. He is still waiting for one of the facility’s 15 available spots to open up. Court papers show the public defender’s office filed several documents in 2012 and 2013 pushing for the DA’s office to move the case forward, including a demand for a speedy trial on Feb. 27, 2013.

The injustice must stop!

How do we continue to advocate for equal rights on behalf of people like Knight and Simmons?

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