Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

Hinds County Drug Court to graduate largest class ever on Sept. 12

September 8, 2006

At least 15 people are scheduled to graduate from the Hinds County Drug Court on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. The ceremony will be in the second floor east wing courtroom at the Hinds County Courthouse at 407 East Pascagoula Street in Jackson.

It is the largest group yet to graduate from the Hinds County program, said Drug Court Coordinator Brenda Mathis. The number of graduates could increase to 17 if two more participants complete the documentation of their participation in a General Education Development (GED) program.

Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin will be the guest speaker.

Hinds County Judge Bill Gowan, who oversees the felony drug court, will preside over the ceremony. Judge Gowan assumed oversight of the Drug Court program shortly after Gov. Haley Barbour appointed him to the Hinds County Court on June 22. It is Judge Gowan’s second term overseeing the Drug Court. He served as Hinds County Court Judge and head of the Hinds County Drug Court from June 2002 until January 2003.

Tuesday’s ceremony is the twelfth graduation for the Hinds County Drug Court program, which began in January 2000. Eighty-five participants have already graduated from the program, which usually takes two years to complete. The program currently enrolls 116 people, including those who are scheduled to graduate.

In addition to recognizing the graduates, the Drug Court will express appreciation to the work of a church ministry which provided school clothing for the children of approximately 30 Drug Court participants this year. The Buried Treasures Ministry of Jackson First Baptist Church assists parents enrolled in Drug Court as well as incarcerated inmates by providing clothing for their children when school starts and gifts for the children at Christmas, Mathis said.

Mississippi has 16 active drug courts. Drug courts 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, and if they dropped out of school, they must pursue a GED certificate.