Family drug court graduates two

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NATCHEZ — Two Adams County families gained a little peace of mind as the court system recognized that they have worked hard and gained skills to cope with family problems in ways that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.

Adams County’s Family Drug Court had graduation and phase promotions Tuesday, with two participants moving into a more advanced phase of the program and two participants graduating.

Family Drug Court is a program in which families that are in danger of having the children placed in foster care — or in some cases, in which the children have been placed in foster care — because of drug- or alcohol-related abuse and neglect can work to restore regular family relations and custody through an intensive drug and family therapy program, Adams County Youth Court Judge John Hudson said.

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Though both of Tuesday’s graduates asked not to be named, they said they were happy to be at the end of the program.

“It’s very exciting,” one said. “I’ve been in the program for about a year-and-a-half.”

The family drug court program places a lot of demands on its participants and forces them to change certain behaviors, Hudson said.

“It is a very tough program,” he said.

One of the United States’ founding principles was the pursuit of happiness, Hudson said, and drugs are a social ill that rob people of their happiness.

“But this is a country that comes back and says, ‘I will give you a way out,’ and (drug court) is a way out,” he said.

Mississippi District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak — who represents Amite, Franklin, Lawrence, Lincoln and Pike counties and who, as a practicing lawyer, has been a long-time advocate for the drug court system — was the guest speaker at Tuesday’s graduation ceremony.

When legislators review programs that are being funded, Moak said one of the questions they ask is if a program is helping people.

“It doesn’t matter if it was 200 people or two people, for these two folks and the people who worked with them every day, this is huge,” he said.

Moak said when he represents clients who are facing drug charges, he does not want to be in a court that does not have a drug court program, and drug court is one of the rare programs where he gets to see a prosecutor and a public defender sitting at the same table.

“They are doing that because they both want to do the best thing for you and for the community,” he said.

The important thing is that family drug court restores families, Moak said.

“Children might not understand everything, but I bet children understand that they are getting a piece of mama back every day you are in this program,” he said.