Hinds County Drug Court 10th Anniversary Celebration is January 29

January 28, 2010

The Hinds County Circuit Drug Court will celebrate its tenth year of operation and its twenty-fifth graduation on Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Mississippi Museum of Art, 380 South Lamar Street in Jackson.

National Drug Court Institute Director Carolyn Hardin will be the guest speaker.

Hinds County Court Judge William Skinner and Hinds County Supervisor Peggy Hobson Calhoun will preside. Judge Skinner supervises the Drug Court.

Former Hinds County Drug Court judges are expected to attend. They are former Hinds County Circuit Judge L. Breland Hilburn, Mississippi College School of Law Professor Patricia Bennett, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mike Parker, and former Hinds County Court Judge William A. Gowan Jr.

Ten people are expected to graduate. Forty people are expected to remain enrolled after the graduation, said Drug Court Director Brenda Mathis.

Some of the previous graduates of the program are also expected to be recognized. Since the program began accepting participants in 2000, it has graduated 169 people. The program has enrolled 332 people since its beginning, Mathis said.

About 2,500 people are currently enrolled in drug court programs statewide, according to the Administrative Office of Courts. Mississippi has 34 drug courts. There are 21 adult court programs and 13 juvenile programs.

Hobson Calhoun, chair of the planning committee for the 10th anniversary celebration, said she would like to see more people enrolled in Drug Court. “The more people that can go through and get treatment, the better off society is going to be. We are sending them through Drug Court to be rehabilitated,” Hobson Calhoun said.

“The celebration and graduation ceremony also serves to help promote public awareness about the program, and to increase the number of referrals through community involvement,” Hobson Calhoun said.

“The reason that I support the Drug Court program is because I have seen the success of Drug Court and the benefits derived from rehabilitating lives of the participants,” she said. “The program is designed to offer non-violent adult offenders with a pending felony charge the opportunity to receive treatment for substance abuse instead of jail time,” she said. “That way we rehabilitate the offender, and then we help to reintegrate him back into society as a drug free, law abiding, tax paying, productive citizen.”

Sen. David Blount of Jackson said, “The Hinds County Drug Court has proven itself as a smart, effective way to fight crime in our community. I admire Judge Skinner’s tireless work.”