Pubdate: Tue, 04 Feb 2003
Source: Sun Herald (MS)
Copyright: 2003, The Sun Herald
Author: Beth Musgrave


GULFPORT - Harrison Co-unty supervisors want to see statistics that show 
success before deciding whether to give money to a special court designed 
to help people kick drugs.

Judges told supervisors that most crimes in the area are directly related 
to drug abuse. Through a drug court, drug users with first offenses could 
enter a three-year program with intensive supervision in lieu of jail time.

Circuit Judges Robert Walker, Stephen Simpson and Jerry O. Terry support 
the idea of a drug court. Walker said the court would cost about $90,000 
its first year and asked county supervisors for a little more than $70,000.

Participants would pay a $50 fee to help cover part of the costs. Walker 
said he is also looking at federal grants.

But Circuit Judge Kosta Vlahos said a drug court would duplicate services.

Vlahos also pointed to a recent study that said people treated in drug 
courts and those who went through traditional courts were rearrested at the 
same rates.

District Attorney Cono Caranna, who has been pushing for a drug court, 
pointed to studies showing that drug courts were effective in treating drug 
addiction and saved money in prison costs. Supervisors also want to find 
out if federal and state money would be available.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom