Crime victims learn ins and outs of legal system - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Crime victims learn ins and outs of legal system

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Roslyn Anderson - bio | email

 JACKSON, MS (WLBT) – Victims of crime in Hinds County learned more about the details of the judicial process.

Tuesday the Hinds County District Attorney's Office held the Victim's Assistance Program to offer help navigating the legal system.

Jackson resident Debra Dixon was one of the dozens of crime victims who sat in a Hinds County courtroom finding out the steps involved in cases handled by the D.A.'s office.

"This day and time we need to focus more on murder than drugs," said Dixon.

Last May her son Broderick Dixon was shot three times in the back while living in Alabama.

"I've been working with the D.A.'s office here to work with the D.A.'s office in Alabama to enhance my knowledge of what I need to do," said Dixon.

According to Hinds County officials, in 2007 there were 14,249 crimes in the county, one per every 17 people.

"Many of you here today know what it's like to be on the receiving end of those statistics," said Victim's Assistance Coordinator Paulett McDowell.

Hinds County has 14 assistant D.A.'s, two of whom walked the victims through the legal process.

It starts with the investigation and arrest, then the suspect's initial court appearance, preliminary hearing and presentation of the case the grand jury.

The suspect is then indicted and arraigned, followed by discovery and plea bargaining.

There is then a trial or plea and ultimately sentencing.

"Some cases are tried in a few months. Some cases are tried in a few years and so we would like to explain the process in order for people to feel comfortable about when their case goes to trial and why," said Hinds County District Attorney Robert Schuler Smith.

This is the first year the district attorney's office has held this Victims Assistance Program.

They want to help guide crime victims through the procedures involved in finding justice.

Paulett McDowell, the Victim's Assistance Coordinator, provides information on case status, applying for victim compensation and other services.

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