Bill would establish drug court

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 16, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The state’s Administrative Office of the Courts would oversee a statewide drug court program under a bill now before the state House of Representatives.

&uot;It empowers the AOC to set guidelines&uot; for such programs, said Adams County Youth Court Judge John Hudson, whose juvenile drug court program is the first in the state.

Hudson has met with other judges and with treatment professionals throughout the session to help iron out the bill’s details and said he feels good about the measure’s chances.

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Under Senate Bill 2605, passed by the Senate and sent to the House Appropriations Committee earlier this month:

4Courts wanting to establish drug court programs would send the AOC a full description of the programs and their funding sources, and the AOC would be in charge of certifying the programs.

4Such programs would have to include invention components, which could include clinical assessment, education, referral, case management, counseling and treatment.

4A State Drug Courts Advisory Committee would monitor the courts and recommend any changes to the AOC.

4Participants could have no previous felony convictions for violent crimes. They also could not be currently charged with a violent crime, with distribution or production of drugs or with driving under the influence.

True, the bill does not provide any source of funding for the statewide network of drug courts, said Hudson.

But with a framework in place to certify and monitor drug courts, &uot;it (the AOC) could help draw down the federal funds are available to help fund things like this,&uot; Hudson said.