Rodrigues Brown

Rodriques Brown looks upset after talking with public defender Grant Hedgepeth. (Photo by Mark Thornton)

 

‘Assault’ not one of Brown’s charges in court hearing

A “high-risk” offender who injured two corrections officers during a recent fight at the Jones County Adult Detention Center is not getting sent back to prison for assault — not yet, at least.

Rodriques Brown, 27, of Laurel was brought back to Jones County Circuit Court on Friday morning for violating the terms of his release from prison. But the only charges that were brought before Judge Dal Williamson had to do with Brown’s failure to pay court fees and fines, and his failure to report to his probation officer and to community service.

It was not known why the assault on the officers wasn’t one of the charges brought before the judge. It’s not listed as one of the charges on the jail’s website, either. A new felony would have likely guaranteed that Brown would have to go back to prison for violating the terms of his probation. 

The failure to pay fines and to report usually results in only a 90-day sentence in a Mississippi Department of Corrections Technical Violation Center, which has been described as a “bunkhouse” by people who are familiar with the facilities.

One of the two corrections officers who was injured reportedly had his leg broken in the fight. 

But both officers were fired for how they handled themselves, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the incident.

When asked why that was, Maj. Jamie Tedford of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department said that it was an “employee matter,” so he couldn’t discuss it.

Brown appeared agitated during his revocation hearing, arguing with public defender Grant Hedgepeth and talking loud to him. At one point, Hedgepeth snapped his fingers and said, “Listen to me.”

Probation officer Carol Windham testified that Brown is a “high-risk offender,” so he is required to report to him more often than most offenders. He said that Brown last reported on Aug. 1 and owes $5,882.50 in court fees, fines and restitution and $220 in fees to MDOC and has completed only 120 of the required 624 hours of community service.

Brown, who was arrested by Laurel police on a warrant for those charges and resisting arrest on Dec. 4, said he had a reason for all of his shortcomings. He then gave a rambling explanation that translated to him saying he couldn’t get a job, he couldn’t find anywhere to live and he doesn’t want to go back to prison.

“When I got out, I stayed with my cousin, but there were problems with her old man and we got into it … I couldn’t go to my mother’s house because my brother’s there, and we get into it,” he said.

Brown said he had a job at a chicken-processing plant, but he left it in August because he thought he was going to get a better job, but “it fell through,” he said. He explained to the judge that his brother is on house arrest at his mother’s house and they couldn’t both use the same address with MDOC.

Brown pleaded guilty to robbery in May 2013, and received a seven-year suspended sentence and three years post-release supervision, back before Williamson was on the bench. In 2016, when Brown violated the terms of his release, Williamson sent him to prison for three years. Brown was released in May.

Williamson said there was no excuse for not reporting to MDOC and community service. He told Brown that he wouldn’t be arrested and sent back to prison for failure to pay fines “until they run out of patience.” 

“I don’t want to have to send you back to prison,” Williamson said. “You’re a grown man and these are things you have to do.”

Brown told the judge that he could talk to his uncle and see about living with him, then getting another job.

The judge told him to do that as soon as he gets back to the jail, then report back to him what the answer was.

“If a man lets you live there in his home, you have to follow his rules,” Williamson said.

Brown told the judge that he’s a “good worker” and when it comes to reporting to his parole officer and community service, “I’ll walk if I have to.”

Sending him to a TVC won’t “solve the problem,” the judge added.

Williamson did make reference to Brown’s “problems at the jail.” He warned Brown that he would be facing 10 to 15 years in prison if he is charged with and convicted of assault on an officer.

“I feel like I didn’t do nothing,” Brown said.

Williamson said, “Just follow the rules and do what you’re supposed to do. Don’t make me send you back to prison. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. If I have to, I’ll send you back to prison for four years. If you put me in that position, I will.”

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