HINDS COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – Wednesday night, 21 men and women graduated from Hinds County Drug Court.
It’s the largest graduating class in the county’s history.
Drug Court allows a second chance to people who would have otherwise been sent to prison for drug offenses.
The program allows them to get to the root of their crimes, which is often addiction.
“To have individuals reconnected with their families…and break the cycle of incarceration, I think is very important,” the graduation ceremony’s keynote speaker and Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall said.
These offenders didn’t serve prison time. Instead, they were given the chance to treat their addictions through drug court.
District 69 Representative Alyce Clarke introduced the drug court concept to the state, which was implemented in 2000.
“It’s making a difference in our state. And with that it also makes a difference for our nation,” Clarke said.
Andre Pitchford is one of the 21 graduates, “I was hanging with the wrong crowd. But one thing I know about drug court, you’re going to have to change your places, people and things to be successful. And ultimately that’s what I did. And I’m thankful for it.”
Non-violent drug offenders who participant in drug court spend between 2 to 5 years doing regular drug testing and supervision.
At the end, their lives are changed.
“It definitely gave me a second chance at life. I’ve obtained my CDL since I’ve been in the program. And I’m thankful for drug court and the tough love that it puts on you,” Pitchford said.
Statewide, more than 3,600 people are enrolled in 42 drug courts.