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Hinds County Drug Court graduation is Oct. 5

September 30, 2004

Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson will be the guest speaker at a Hinds County Drug Court graduation ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. The program will be in Courtroom No. 1 on the second floor of the Hinds County Courthouse in Jackson.

Four participants are expected to graduate.

Forty-seven people have previously graduated from the Hinds County Drug Court program, which began enrolling participants in March 2000. The program currently has 93 participants.

Peterson, a supporter of drug courts, said, “I’m one of those prosecutors who believes you have to have alternatives in any effective criminal justice system. It’s the easiest thing in the world for prosecutors just to prosecute and send them to probation or send them to prison, but that does not stop the systematic problems that cause people to continue to commit crimes. Drug courts are one of the alternatives that an urban district like this has to have.”

“ ‘Tough on crime’ sounds good, but if you are trying to build a good community, you have to address the needs of those who don’t have anything to do with being a hard-core criminal. Where it is possible for an individual to be restored to the community, I want to see that happen. Prison does not restore people to the community. It just puts them back in there with the same problems,” Peterson said.

Hinds County Judge Mike Parker, who presides over Drug Court, said drug courts provide the accountability that forces drug addicts to stick with a treatment program. Drug courts use intensive supervision, drug testing, treatment and immediate sanctions and incentives.

Judge Parker said, “Folks who come into this program have a drug problem, and for the drug treatment process to work, there has to be accountability, constant and consistent drug testing and close judicial supervision. That’s what separates drug court from just a typical drug treatment program. It’s treatment with consequences.”

Judge Parker said that people who seek private treatment outside the framework of drug court have a choice of whether to stick with the program or walk away. “It’s really up to the individual as to whether they have the discipline, the dedication to get through the treatment program. In Drug Court, they don’t have a choice. It’s get through it or else. Most people are in here to get better, and they will if they are serious about it. And the jail is there if they don’t.”

Eleven drug courts operate in Mississippi. In addition to the Hinds County Drug Court, programs now in operation are the 2nd Circuit of Hancock, Harrison and Stone Counties; the 4th Circuit of Leflore, Sunflower and Washington counties; the 6th Circuit in Adams County; the 8th Circuit of Leake, Neshoba, Newton and Scott counties; the 11th Circuit in Bolivar and Coahoma counties; the 12th Circuit of Forrest and Perry counties; the 14th Circuit of Lincoln, Pike and Walthall counties; the 19th Circuit of George, Greene and Jackson counties; Adams County Youth Court; and Madison County Youth Court.

Officials of the Hinds County Justice Court and the Jackson Municipal Court have expressed interest in implementing drug courts within their jurisdictions.

For more information about drug court programs in Mississippi, go to the web site of the Mississippi Supreme Court at www.mssc.state.ms.us and click on AOC.

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