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Chief Justice Randolph to speak at Drug Court graduation in Pascagoula March 12

March 6, 2020

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph will be the guest speaker on March 12 at 11 a.m. at a graduation of the 19th Circuit Drug Court in Pascagoula. The ceremony will be held on the second floor of the Jackson County Courthouse at 3104 Magnolia Street.

Seventeen people are expected to graduate during the ceremony.

Circuit Judge Dale Harkey will preside.

Chief Justice Randolph said that intervention courts save lives and provide an enormous savings to the state budget. Participants in intensely supervised drug court programs learn to live clean and sober and support their families. The savings in avoided incarceration costs amounted to more than $480,675,000 during the past eight years and seven months.

Chief Justice Randolph is working to expand intervention courts. He hopes to establish eight mental health court pilot programs, add eight veterans court pilot programs and create three more drug courts if the 2020 Legislature approves the funding. The 2019 Legislature, as part of the Criminal Justice Reform Act, called for additional intervention courts to include veterans and mental health courts. The vote in the House of Representatives was 110 - 5 on House Bill 1352; the Senate vote was 49 - 2.

It is expected that the savings to the State of Mississippi in Fiscal Year 2021 will exceed$71.7 million with the addition of the new intervention courts.

The state currently has 40 drug courts, including 22 adult felony programs, three adult misdemeanor programs, 12 juvenile drug courts and three family drug courts.

Drug courts provide participants access to resources and opportunities they need by coordinating the efforts of the judiciary, prosecution, defense counsel, probation, law enforcement, treatment, mental health and social service providers. This interdisciplinary approach offers participants the opportunity to become productive, law abiding citizens, which reduces recidivism and provides for healthier communities.

During the past seven fiscal years, intervention courts have graduated more than 5,757 participants. Accomplishments of drug court participants include:

• 485 attended vocational schools;
• 750 attended traditional schools;
• 150 attended alternative schools;
• 1,326 attended post-secondary schools;
• 446 earned GEDs;
• 4,111 are now employed;
• 1,162 obtained driver licenses;
• 536 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 nearly 16 years of service.

He was decorated for heroism in Vietnam, where he served with the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One, before he was honorably discharged. During law school, he received an appointment as a Reserve officer in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General Corps. He graduated from the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island, before he was honorably discharged.

He earned a B.S. degree in business administration from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.,in 1972. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1974, where he served as president of the Law School Student Body.

He began practicing law in 1975 in Biloxi with the firm of Ross, King and Randolph. He then practiced with the firm of Bryan, Nelson, Allen and Schroeder in Pascagoula. He opened a Hattiesburg office for Bryan, Nelson, Allen and Schroeder in 1976. He later formed the firm of Bryan Nelson Randolph, PA., serving as President and CEO until his appointment to the Supreme Court.

He has homes in Hattiesburg and Ocean Springs.

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