Drug Court gets praise from grads

Published 10:14 am Friday, September 30, 2016


For Jimmy Hart, Thursday night marked a turning point in his life.

He graduated from drug court.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“It’s a big relief,” said Hart, one of 17 participants to graduate from the program, which offers offenders the incentive of a chance to remain out of jail and be employed.

Hill spent 4 1/2 years in the program after being convicted for auto burglary.

“I was breaking into cars to buy drugs,” he said, adding his drug of choice was Xanax, a tranquilizer. “There were other drugs mixed in, but it was mainly Xanax. I was in drug court before, and I got sanctioned (spending time in jail for not following the program requirements). That’s when the light went on and I knew they were serious. My family provided a lot of support.”

The graduation was the final action for the participants of the Ninth Circuit District’s Drug Court, which has been in operation since 2005. All graduates received a plaque and had a medallion placed around their necks by Circuit Judge M. James Chaney. They also received the opportunity to talks about themselves and their experience to drug court participants still working toward their graduation.

“It feels great,” said Virginia Tyler, who was in the program “five years to the date. “

Tyler was charged with uttering forgery and was turned in by her father and grandmother “and I thank them every day.”

“I thank my mom and dad and my family and friends, including Mike Arender, for their support, and Lisa Kapp for her support and everything she did for me,” she said.

“Before drug court, the only thing we could do was order treatment, and if the defendant couldn’t pay, they went to sit in jail with the MDOC (Mississippi Department of Corrections),” said Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick. He said the program provides participants with treatment and the structure to help them get sober, find a job, and rejoin society.

“This is a great program,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said. “I’ve seen people come out of it clean and sober and with a job who I never thought would ever reach that point.”

William Saul, director of the Mississippi Supreme Court’s Drug Court Compliance Office, congratulated the graduates, and told the remaining drug court participants to stay with the program, adding 70 percent of all drug court participants will never do drugs again.

He said many drug court participants agree to the program because it will keep them out of prison.

“Eventually, the light will come on and you’ll realize this can help you,” he said.

“Do what they tell you to do and it will be all right,” Saul said. “Every element of drug court is designed to get you where you want to be — clean and sober. It’s designed to help you think a different way.

“Do what they tell you and it will be fine.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John