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

Youth Drug Court begins operation in Attala, Neshoba and Winston counties

July 24, 2017

Attala, Neshoba and Winston counties will launch a juvenile drug court Aug. 1.

Chancellor Joseph Kilgore will announce plans for the Sixth Chancery District Youth Drug Court during a speech at 9:20 a.m. July 26 at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia.

Youth Drug Court begins operation in Attala, Neshoba and Winston counties

Youth Court referees will preside over drug courts in the three counties, and Judge Kilgore will oversee the program.

“There is a great need to address the issues that are contributing to juvenile drug use and ultimately juvenile crime,” Judge Kilgore said. “Our Youth Court referees are telling me that the use of drugs is somehow involved in many of these cases. Even if the initial infraction is not drug-related, our referees are able to find drug use somewhere in the picture.”

Judge Kilgore said, “The missing link in our courts now and in addressing the issues that come before the courts seems to be related to ongoing active oversight that traditional youth courts are unable to provide.”

The Youth Drug Court will operate in the three most populous counties of the Sixth Chancery District. Juveniles from Carroll, Choctaw and Kemper counties who qualify for drug court services can be placed in one of the programs in Attala, Neshoba or Winston counties, Judge Kilgore said.

“If there is a juvenile that has a need, we will be able to place them in one of the larger counties. We are not going to ignore or neglect the smaller counties. If there is a juvenile that needs help, we can make arrangements,” Judge Kilgore said.

Juvenile drug courts use early intervention and intensive supervision to deter drug use and prevent criminal behavior. In the first phase, participants will be under house arrest and will be subjected to drug testing three times a week. Those who fail a drug screen may be detained. Participants are expected to be under the supervision of the Youth Drug Court for at least a year. Families must be willing to be supportive of their children’s participation.

The Administrative Office of Courts issued certification to the program in June. AOC will provide $75,000 to operate the program. Judge Kilgore said additional funding is being sought in grant applications through the Department of Public Safety and other entities.

Mississippi had 14 juvenile drug court programs before the Sixth Chancery District Youth Drug Court began operation. A total of 42 drug courts operated in Mississippi with about 3,670 people enrolled. There are 22 adult felony programs, with a drug court operating in every Circuit Court district in the state. There are also three misdemeanor programs and three family courts. Drug courts operate within Circuit Courts, Chancery Courts, Youth Courts, Justice and Municipal Courts.