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

Chief Justice Randolph to appear before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Feb. 4

January 29, 2020

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph will appear before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 408 of the Capitol.

Chief Justice Randolph is seeking a $4 million budget increase to implement House Bill 1352, which directed the courts to create intervention courts to help veterans and people with mental illnesses. HB 1352 received overwhelming support during the 2019 Legislative Session. The vote in the House of Representatives was 110 - 5 on HB 1352; the Senate vote was 49 - 2.

The Chief Justice hopes to establish eight mental health court pilot programs, eight veterans court pilot programs, and create three more drug courts as directed by HB 1352 passed in the 2019 Legislature. The 2019 Legislature, as part of the Criminal Justice Reform Act, called for additional intervention courts to include veterans and mental health courts.

Savings to the State of Mississippi in Fiscal Year 2021 will exceed $71.7 million with the addition of the new intervention courts. Drug courts already have saved the state more than $469 million in incarceration costs alone during the past eight years and five months.

The state currently has 40 drug courts. There are 22 adult felony drug court programs – one in each of the 22 Circuit Court districts. Special programs for veterans currently operate in two of them: the 12th Circuit and 19th Circuit. There are also three adult misdemeanor drug court programs, 12 juvenile drug courts and three family drug courts.

During the past seven fiscal years, intervention courts have graduated 5,624 participants. Accomplishments of drug court participants include:
more than 477 attended vocational schools;
more than 750 attended traditional schools;
more than 1,321 attended post-secondary schools;
more than 431 earned GEDs;
more than 4,027 are now employed;
more than 1,121 obtained driver licenses;
more than 528 drug-free babies were born, increasing the savings to the state.

According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, each healthy, drug-free infant saves the state an average of $750,000 during the first 18 years of life. Drug courts will save an additional $39 million over the next 18 years by avoiding the costs associated with caring for children exposed to drugs before they are born.

Chief Justice Randolph is the leader of the Mississippi judicial branch of government. He became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on Feb. 1, 2019. He is the longest currently serving member of the Supreme Court, with 15 years and seven months of appellate service. He was appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour on April 23, 2004. He was first elected in November 2004, and re-elected in November 2012.