6th Circuit Court gets $335,867 Drug Court grant
Three more southwest Mississippi counties will soon participate in a Drug Court program thanks to a $335,867 federal grant to the 6th Circuit Court District Adult Drug Court.
An adult Drug Court has operated in Adams County since May 2004. The federal grant will allow the program to expand to Amite, Franklin and Wilkinson counties, said Circuit Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders.
“We are going to move forward expeditiously to the rest of the district,” Judge Sanders said. “I’m very excited and very pleased.”
Between five and 10 people from Wilkinson County could begin participating in a Drug Court there by early October, Judge Sanders said. She hopes to expand the program to Amite and Franklin counties by January 2006. Her goal is to have 75 people in the program. There are 33 people in the program now.
Funding limited the program to Adams County since the Adult Drug Court was formed in May 2004. The program started with $6,000 given by the Adams County Board of Supervisors. The Adams County Adult Drug Court operated for the first year with existing court staff and volunteers taking on extra duties. Isle of Capri Casino in Natchez donated drug testing needed to monitor Drug Court participants.
Three part-time workers were hired when state funding became available in July. The state money is collected from special assessments added to fines. The federal grant funding will allow the hiring of full-time staff.
The grant funding will be spread over a two-year period. The money is made available through the Office of Justice Programs under the Fiscal Year 2005 Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program. Assistant U.S. Attorney General Regina B. Schofield notified Judge Sanders about the grant award by letter on Sept. 6.
Drug Courts in Mississippi are special courts which seek to rehabilitate drug-using offenders through drug treatment and intense supervision with drug testing and frequent court appearances. Drug courts offer the incentive of a chance to remain out of jail, and the sanction of a jail sentence if participants fail to remain drug-free and in compliance with all program requirements. Participants are required to work.
Judge Sanders’ 18-month program begins with 30 to 45 days of drug treatment. After that, participants meet weekly with a Drug Court case manager and once every two weeks with Judge Sanders. Participants are subjected to frequent drug testing, supervision by members of the Drug Court team, and the sanction of going back to jail if they use drugs.
Fourteen drug courts are in operation across the state, and six are in the planning stages. For more information about drug court programs in Mississippi, go to courts.ms.gov.