BILOXI -- A Harrison County grand jury has indicted 16 criminal defendants as habitual offenders and decided 13 qualify for prosecution with enhanced penalties.
The recommendations were listed in the final report for the August term in the Second Judicial District in Harrison County Circuit Court. The six-month term in Biloxi ended Feb. 16.
The grand jury considered 305 cases, returned 213 true bills and recommended defendants facing a third felony qualify for a day-for-day prison term if convicted.
Jurors also recommended defendants charged with certain crimes face a double sentence or other enhanced penalties. Using a firearm while committing a crime, for instance, and selling drugs near a school or public park are among crimes that qualify for enhanced penalties under state laws.
The report typically does not identify specific criminal defendants in its disposition of cases.
The grand jury, empaneled by Judge Roger Clark, was in session 11 days and also visited the county children's shelter, youth detention center and jail.
-- The children's shelter is "well-maintained," safe, secure and has "a very warm, home-like environment with a friendly and caring staff."
-- The juvenile detention center is "clean, well-maintained and well managed."
-- The adult detention center's security and management are "sufficient."
Recommendations to county officials:
-- Provide more covered area in the recreation yard at the juvenile detention center; its library needs expanding and the center needs a vocational program as an alternative for educational opportunities.
-- Re-open the county's inmate work center.
-- Provide more comfortable meeting space for the grand jury.
The judicial district, based in Biloxi, prosecutes felony charges filed in Biloxi, D'Iberville and northeast Harrison County.