Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge hosted a press conference on the steps of the Laurel Courthouse to address the issue of indictments this morning just before noon. An indictment is a formal charge or accusation of a serious crime. Indictments are issued by a grand jury after members of such a jury decide that there is sufficient evidence to charge a defendant with a felony crime.
The Laurel IMPACT published a story in its April 17, 2019, edition about some Circuit Court cases being dismissed due to indictments not being served in a timely manner, but the sheriff gave no indication that the story by IMPACT or any other media outlet served as the reason for the press conference.
“I’m not here, as some think I should, to respond to various rumors, propaganda and personal slander, because that’s not my deal. You know who I am and you know who the Jones County Sheriff’s Office is. And as I’ve been taught through the Word of God, the truth will set you free. And so we will be standing before you today speaking the truth.”
At the press conference the sheriff reviewed some information from a statement that his office had made available to the media before he began speaking. The statement read, in part: “Since Sheriff Alex Hodge took office, a total of 4,641 indictments have been handed to the Jones County Sheriff’s Office to be served. As of 9:00 a.m. on April 30, 2019, 4,375 have been served by the Jones County Sheriff’s Office. Two hundred and sixty-six have not been served. That is an overall percentage of just over 94 percent served under the leadership of Sheriff Hodge and this administration.”
Sheriff Hodge noted how the people of Jones County had elected by him with 54 percent of the vote the first time he ran, 68 percent of the vote the second time he ran, and 75 percent the last election cycle.
“Why?” He asked. “Because we are doing the job. I promised you that we would do the job, and I promised that when I was elected sheriff of Jones County that we would surround ourselves with people who would get the job done, and we’ve absolutely got the job done. Ninety-four percent service rating is faithfully serving the people of Jones County since we took office in 2008.
He continued, “There are people who are getting paid millions of dollars who would love to have an average of 94 percent . . . (those) standing at the plate, goalies, batting averages, receiving averages, and, oh by the way, we don’t get paid millions of dollars.”
The sheriff told the courthouse listeners that he and his staff wish they could have served the other 266 that did not get served, but he emphasized that they never quit trying.
“Why were those people in court, those cases that got dismissed? Because we served their process,” he said. “How did they wind up in court? Because we served their process. Two hundred and sixty-six of that 4,641 were not served, but we kept working.”
Sheriff Hodge then took a few minutes to explain the steps his department takes to ensure that the persons who are indicted arrive for their appointments. He even showed the audience at the courthouse a document the individual signs that states his or her intent to keep in touch with the Sheriff’s Department (every week), their bondsman, and his or her attorney. The document contains the indicted person’s phone number and home address.
“So what happens if they fail to show up? We don’t forget about them,” asserted Hodge, explaining that if the indicted person fails to appear, they are immediately registered with the National Crime Information Center.
“That alerts everybody nationwide that Jones County is looking for whoever it is . . . As I said all along, we don’t always get it right, but we are constantly revising and strengthening what we do on a day to day basis so that we cannot only be stronger as a team but so that we can be stronger as a county in better service to you.”