Drug Court graduation scheduled Oct. 21 in Magnolia

Oct. 16, 2002

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Edwin L. Pittman is expected to be the keynote speaker at the 14th Circuit Court District Drug Court graduation on Oct. 21 in Magnolia. The graduation is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Pike County Courthouse.

Twenty-three Drug Court participants are expected to graduate, said Drug Court Coordinator Russanna Lindley. They include participants from Lincoln, Pike and Walthall counties.

The Drug Court allows non-violent offenders whose legal problems are related to addiction to get treatment in lieu of jail time.

The 23 graduates will enter phase three of a four-part program. An additional 16 people will go into phase four of the program, Lindley said.

Phase one is six weeks of drug treatment. Phase two includes weekly reporting to the judge and twice weekly drug testing. Phase two lasts two years for cocaine addicts and one year for other drugs.

Circuit Judge Keith Starrett, who founded the Drug Court in the 14th District in February 1999, said he requires the longer period of weekly reporting and drug testing for cocaine addicts "because of the terribly addictive nature of cocaine."

Phase three, which lasts for a year, involves monthly reporting to Starrett and drug testing at least twice a month. Phase four involves no reporting or supervision for a period of one year, but participants still have charges hanging over their heads. If they complete the probationary period, in some cases, the charge can be dismissed.

The 23 prospective graduates have paid $59,333 in fines and an additional $18,150 in fees, Lindley said.

Participants pay their own way. In addition to paying fines, they pay $50 a month to participate in the program, Starrett said. They must have a job, and they pay for their own treatment.

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MEDIA CONTACT:   Beverly Pettigrew Kraft
Administrative Office of Courts
601-354-7452