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

19th Circuit Drug Court graduation is April 10 in Lucedale

April 7, 2008

The 19th Circuit Drug Court will celebrate a graduation at 6 p.m. April 10 in the second floor courtroom at the George County Courthouse, 355 Cox Street in Lucedale.

The seven graduates will speak about their experiences. Circuit Judge Kathy King Jackson will preside.

The 19th Circuit Drug Court, which has participants in George, Greene and Jackson counties, is the largest of 24 drug courts statewide, according to the Administrative Office of Courts.

A total of 230 people are enrolled in the three-county program, said 19th Circuit Drug Court Coordinator Joanne Byrd. Thirty-six people are enrolled in the program in George and Greene counties, said Drug Court Case Manager Idice Darden.

State Drug Court Coordinator Joey Craft said the impact of a successful drug court program is felt throughout a community.

Craft said, “We know about the devastating effects that drugs and alcohol abuse have on an individual’s life, but the consequences of substance abuse go far beyond the individual abuser. Drug abuse takes its toll on the abuser’s family and friends.

“As the largest drug court in the state, the 19th Circuit Drug Court judges, staff, and partnering agencies are the ones to be commended for making a difference in the lives of not only the clients, but their families. The 19th Circuit Drug Court program has helped thousands of Mississippians recover from the pain that drug and alcohol abuse has caused,” Craft said.

Craft said, “Drug court programs in Mississippi and across the country have been shown to reduce recidivism and increase treatment retention. They are a cost-effective alternative to incarceration for non-violent substance abusers. The Drug Court program in the 19th Circuit continues to be a great example of what a drug court should be.”

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

Judge Jackson started the Drug Court program in the 19th Circuit Court District in George and Greene counties in November 2002. The program was expanded to Jackson County in March 2004. Judge Jackson and Circuit Judges Robert Krebs and Dale Harkey supervise separate groups of Drug Court participants.