19th Circuit Drug Court graduation is Thursday, June 1

May 30, 2006

Nine people from George and Greene counties are scheduled to graduate from the 19th Judicial District Drug Court at 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 1. The ceremony will be conducted in the courtroom on the second floor of the George County Courthouse in Lucedale. The Courthouse is located at 355 Cox St.

Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge David M. Ishee of Gulfport will be the guest speaker. Circuit Judge Kathy King Jackson of Pascagoula will preside over the ceremony.

The graduation is the second for the Drug Court which Judge Jackson created in George and Greene counties in November 2002. Nine others graduated from the program a year ago.

A total of 152 people are enrolled in three separate Drug Court programs in the 19th Circuit Court District of George, Greene and Jackson counties, said Drug Court Coordinator Joanne Byrd. Judge Jackson and Circuit Judge Robert P. Krebs conduct Drug Court programs.

The Jackson County Drug Court program will hold its first graduation at 3 p.m. on June 30 in the second floor courtroom of the old Jackson County Courthouse at 3104 Magnolia Street in Pascagoula.

It takes three years to complete the 19th District Drug Court program, Byrd said. Participants spend two years under intensive supervision and another year with less frequent monitoring. At the start of the program, participants receive between one and four months of in-patient drug treatment. After completion of in-patient treatment, they meet once a week with the judge and are drug tested at least twice a week during the first two years of the program. Each week during the first two years, they must attend an hour of aftercare drug counseling, attend two meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, spend an hour at the library and perform two hours of community service work. They must keep a full-time job.

To graduate, they must perform at least 200 hours of community service work, pay all fines and fees, earn a certificate of completion from a parenting class, and earn a General Education Development (GED) certificate if they don’t already have a GED or high school diploma. After earning a GED, they are required to enroll in a vocational-technical program or take college courses.

The Drug Court pays for one college course or one vocational-technical course per semester, Byrd said. The tuition program was started with a $10,000 grant from Chevron and has continued with donations from several local attorneys.

Drug courts 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 be employed, and the sanction of a jail sentence if participants fail to remain drug-free and in compliance with all program requirements.

Mississippi has 16 active drug court programs. For more information about drug courts in Mississippi, go to the web site of the Mississippi Supreme Court,, then click on “AOC.”