Fifth Circuit District Drug Court completes statewide system
The creation of a drug court for the Fifth Circuit Court District completes statewide coverage of drug courts in Mississippi. All 22 Circuit Court districts now operate drug courts.
Circuit Judges Joseph Loper of Ackerman and Clarence E. Morgan III of Kosciusko will use the drug treatment and intensive supervision program for qualifying persons facing charges in Attala, Carroll, Choctaw, Grenada, Montgomery, Webster and Winston counties.
Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., who has pushed for statewide coverage of drug courts, said, “I think it’s a great day for the citizens of Mississippi that drug courts are now available in every judicial district of the state. The cost savings are significant, but the difference it makes in the lives of the participants and their families is the reason they are successful.”
State Drug Court Coordinator Joey Craft said, “With this new program comes new opportunities for those living in the seven counties of the Fifth Circuit. Those who find themselves trapped in the revolving door of the criminal justice system and drug addiction will have a chance to break that cycle.”
Fifth Circuit Drug Court Coordinator David Bain of Kosciusko said, “A lot of good people wind up in a situation where they are not strong enough. We are going to try to give them the tools they need.”
Drug courts are special courts which address crimes committed by persons addicted to drugs or alcohol. Drug courts may accept persons charged with drug possession or non-violent property crimes.
Drug courts seek to rehabilitate drug-using offenders through drug treatment and intensive supervision with frequent court appearances and random drug testing. Drug courts offer the incentive of a chance to remain out of jail and be employed. Participants who fail to remain drug-free and in compliance with all program requirements face the sanction of a prison sentence.
After completing drug treatment, participants will meet with one of the judges every two weeks to report on their progress. Participants are subject to random drug testing. They must participate in a self-help program such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous twice a week. They must have a job or be in school. If they don’t have a high school diploma, they must enroll in General Education Development (GED) classes.
Drug Court, with its intensive supervision, will deter relapses. “It’s a way of holding people accountable,” Judge Loper said. “If you don’t have somebody following them, it’s easy to slide or slip off the wagon.”
Bain and Probation Officer Michael Ming of Louisville will make house calls as well as require participants to come to the Drug Court office in Kosciusko for testing.
Judge Morgan, who has been on the bench for 17 years, said, “I’ve been putting folks into rehab since I’ve been a judge. Drug Court is a more extensive program, a lengthier program, and I think we will have more success.”