Jackson County Drug Court graduation is December 16

December 12, 2008

Like father, like son.

When the Jackson County Drug Court holds its graduation on Dec. 16 in Pascagoula, one of the graduates will follow in his father’s footsteps. The father graduated from the Drug Court program in August.

Seven people are expected to graduate in a ceremony at 2 p.m. on the second floor of the Jackson County Courthouse at 3104 Magnolia Street in Pascagoula. Circuit Judge Robert P. Krebs will preside.

The son who is graduating actually enrolled in the program earlier than his father, said Drug Court Case Manager Margaret Chapman. “It took time for him to see the light. We are all so proud of both of them. They have made great changes,” Chapman said.

Having members of the same family enrolled in a drug court is not unique. Husbands and wives have previously graduated from the 19th District Drug Court. Other drug courts around the state have graduated parents and children.

Participation in a drug court program by a single family member has an effect on the whole family. When a person is able to work toward recovery from drug addiction and remain out of jail, he or she is able to have a job, support a family, and be a parent and care-giver to other family members.

Judge Krebs said, “In my four years doing Drug Court, I have seen families reunite, trust restored among family members, and children born drug-free. I have seen Drug Court participants become good parents and productive members of society. We have also had parents of some of the participants die, but it has been a source of pride for the participants that before dying, the parent saw their child drug-free.”

The 19th Circuit Court District of Jackson, George and Greene counties has 249 people currently enrolled in Drug Court. It has the largest enrollment of the state’s 28 drug courts.

All three circuit judges of the 19th Circuit Court District oversee Drug Court programs and meet with a group of participants. Judge Kathy King Jackson started the Drug Court program in George and Greene counties in November 2002, and expanded the program to Jackson County in March 2004. Judge Krebs began presiding over Drug Court in Jackson County in October 2004. Judge Dale Harkey began his Drug Court program in July 2006.

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.