Read the Leader-Call enough and it becomes apparent that there are plenty of “frequent fliers” on the jail docket. The majority of those commit petty crimes. Sometimes a night in the drunk tank or a fine suffices until the inevitable next offense.

Then there are those on the second level. It is they who commit felonies, and are led into court wearing handcuffs and leg irons. It is they who are a danger to society. When they do get caught, it takes hundreds and hundreds of hours for police work, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, judicial staff, bailiffs and jurors to render a decision. When a criminal is then found guilty, we trust that the person will be sentenced commensurate for the crime. Then we must pray that he or she will serve the majority of the sentence.

So it was really no surprise when the Jones County Sheriff’s Department announced that the suspect in the shooting at a deputy was Roscoe Keyes. He has been in our For the Record myriad times. He has slipped away from law enforcement, found refuge in hotels and even climbed through a ceiling to escape capture. Oh, yes, he also slipped his way out of a patrol car during a previous arrest.

In February 2015, he was ordered to serve 15 years in the full-time custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to possession of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. A charge of felony fleeing was dropped in exchange for his guilty plea. MDOC’s parolee page on Keyes says that he was eligible for release on Nov. 20, 2025. It’s not clear when and why he was released almost six years earlier than that. 

He is a dangerous element to our society. While we don’t advocate locking people up and throwing away the key, when a pattern can easily be spotted — in Keyes’ case the pattern is glaring — prudence and wisdom should prevail.

Continue to watch the For the Record section of this newspaper and there are just some names that jump out, likely coaxing a thought of: “How in the heck is HE out of jail?”

If Keyes is found guilty of the latest charges he will be facing, we hope the system does its part. But we won’t hold our breath. The only thing more glaring than Keyes’ pattern of criminality is that of the state’s pattern of releasing criminals early.

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