Vollor: Work on drug court will continue

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 3, 2009

Circuit Judge Frank Vollor will spend much of his time after he leaves office May 31 lobbying local businesses to support what is likely to be the hallmark of his 20-year tenure on the bench.

With the 9th Circuit Drug Court funded only by a fixed $225,000 amount from the Administrative Office of Courts, expenses such as transportation and fees charged by drug testing facilities may not always remain manageable.

Hence, Vollor said, the need for private money is growing.

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“I will be an advocate for drug court,” Vollor told Warren County supervisors Thursday during a meeting originally concerning the status of the building at 1220 Clay St. used for the drug court sessions. Its monthly lease with the building’s owners was renewed in March, so Vollor appeared with fellow 9th Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick to update the board on the immediate future of the program.

“My mouth will be unleashed,” Vollor said of his plans to ask the business community to fund the court Vollor was key to creating in the 9th Circuit in 2005. “I can’t use state money and I can’t use (county) money.”

The program provides treatment rather than incarceration for people accused of felonies if they identify drugs as the cause of their criminal behavior and agree to a lengthy period of intensive testing and rehabilitation personally overseen by the judge.

Vollor said contributions to the program from area business would be “to their best benefit” because of tax credits available for hiring those who have completed the program. The benefit to the public at large is ongoing and serious, Vollor indicated.

“Drugs are tearing us up. I hate to say it, but they are,” said Vollor, who along with Patrick referenced the lingering methamphetamine problem in Warren County for which more than 20 have been arrested by Vicksburg and Warren County law enforcement officials in 2009.

“The ingredients are so cheap,” Patrick said, adding he and whoever is appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour to fill the rest of Vollor’s term “will make sure the program keeps going.”

Program statistics show 180 people have entered the program since its inception. Of those, 19 have completed the program and have had their records expunged. Of the 61 who have been revoked or have withdrawn, more than 50 were in the initial phase.

Currently, 96 participants are active in the program, with 47 in the first of four phases. Most have found gainful employment, as 89 percent of them are working.

Vollor’s term ends in December 2010. To appoint a judge until an election, Barbour will choose one of three people whose names are forwarded by a screening panel.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at dbarrett@vicksburgpost.com