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Drug Court conference to be held in Biloxi May 5-7

May 2, 2008

Media military analyst and former national drug policy director Barry McCaffrey is among the speakers scheduled for the Mississippi Association of Drug Court Professionals annual conference in Biloxi. McCaffrey will speak at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, in the Magnolia Room at the Beau Rivage Hotel.

McCaffrey served for five years as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Bill Clinton. The highly decorated U.S. Army combat veteran and retired four- star general is a military and national security analyst whose commentary appears frequently on network news programs.

The three-day conference gets underway Monday, May 5, and runs through Wednesday, May 7. More than 200 people, including judges, drug court staff, law enforcement and correctional officers and drug treatment providers, are expected to attend the conference.

State Drug Court Coordinator Joey Craft of Clinton, president of the Mississippi Association of Drug Court Professionals, will convene the training conference at 1 p.m. Monday, May 5. Participants in the opening ceremony include new Commissioner of Public Safety Steve Simpson of Gulfport, 8th District Circuit Judge Vernon Cotten of Carthage, Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway, Mississippi Department of Corrections Field Officer John D. “Jack” Hollingsworth of Utica, and members of the Biloxi High School ROTC.

At 1:45 p.m. Monday, C. West Huddleston III of Alexandria, Va., will discuss the growing national drug court movement. Huddleston is executive director of the National Drug Court Institute and chief executive officer of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

Mississippi currently has 25 drug courts – 17 adult programs and eight juvenile programs. Five new programs have been created in the past year.

Craft said, “Drug courts continue to grow at a pace far greater than what we anticipated just a few years ago, and that is encouraging. With drug court legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Haley Barbour, the state is poised to see more growth in the number of drug courts and the number of Mississippians being served by drug courts. In the next 12 to 18 months, I would not be surprised to see the enrollment in drug court programs increase sharply.”

At the end of March, 1,582 people were enrolled in drug courts statewide, Craft said. During calendar year 2007, fines paid by drug court participants statewide amounted to $455,942, and fees participants paid to support the programs totaled $454,184. During the 2007 calendar year, 224 people graduated from drug court programs statewide. Women participating in drug court programs last year gave birth to 45 drug-free babies.

Senate Bill 2246, which becomes effective July 1, says that the State Drug Court Advisory Committee “shall establish through rules and regulations a viable and fiscally responsible plan to expand the number of adult and juvenile drug court programs operating in Mississippi. These rules and regulations shall include plans to increase participation in existing and future programs while maintaining their voluntary nature.”

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.

Tuesday’s MADCP program will start with an 8 a.m. presentation from Delbert Boone, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who spent time in prison in Missouri and Kansas. Boone began developing a drug abuse treatment program while he was in prison. The former high school teacher, coach, parole officer and drug counselor operates a consulting firm in New York City.

Supreme Court Chief Justice James W. Smith Jr. will open Wednesday’s program at 8 a.m.

Other speakers during the three-day program include:

• Peter Baker, director of the Durham Drug Treatment Courts in Durham, N.C.;

• Jim Binion and Greg Brannon of Advanced Computer Technologies, a web design and case management software development company in Montgomery, Ala.;

• Lt. Chris Clausi of the Franklin, Tenn., Police Department, a member of the Tennessee 21st Judicial District Drug Court;

• Pat Cooper, former McComb school superintendent, now chief executive officer of the New Orleans-based Early Childhood and Family Learning Foundation;

• Philip Hemphill, program director of the Professional Enhancement program at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg;

• Dorothy Idleburg, Ph.D., professor of sociology and social work, Department of Social Sciences at Alcorn State University;

• Capt. Jeff Killion, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics;

• Don Lindley, probation officer and lab director for the 14th Circuit Drug Court in Lincoln, Pike and Walthall counties;

• Attorney Lisa S. Nored, associate professor, chair of the Department of Administration of Justice and director of the Mississippi Statistical Analysis Center at the University of Southern Mississippi;

• Dr. Ellen Ovson, medical director of Gentle Path sexual disorders treatment program at Pine Grove Behavioral Medicine and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg;

• U.S. Magistrate Judge Mike Parker of Hattiesburg, former Hinds County Drug Court judge;

• Circuit Judge Michael Taylor, who oversees the 14th Circuit Drug Court;

• Meghan Wheeler, project director of the education, research and training division of the National Drug Court Institute.

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