Clay County uses Lee County Drug Court as model

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Clay County officials are starting their own drug court and are looking to Lee County to get it started.
Clay County Judge Thomas Hampton and other officials visited Lee County Drug Court on Thursday to get a firsthand look at how the court runs. Lee County has operated a drug court for the past couple of years and Hampton said reinventing the wheel would be a waste of time when Lee County already has the system up and running smoothly.
“Lee County had a great program and by Clay County getting ready to start ours we wanted to look at theirs to see how things operate,” said Hampton. “Drug Court is great for the community and we believe it will help to improve ours in Clay County.”
Lee County Justice Court Judge Ricky Thompson runs drug court. He said the program has been an asset to the community and that it’s only getting better.
“The benefit of drug court is that it’s getting people free from drugs and alcohol,” said Thompson. “It’s helping to turn people in to productive citizens and away from criminal activity. There are just so many success stories about the program. I feel Clay County will benefit from it like Lee County has.”
Thompson said he would help Clay County any way he could with its program.
To be a candidate for drug court, a participant must be arrested on a felony possession drug charge or other charges, such as writing bad checks or prescription fraud. The drug court doesn’t accept those charged with selling drugs into the program.
After someone is arrested and indicted on a felony drug-related crime, they are reviewed to see if their case is eligible for drug court. If they are accepted, the defendant is allowed to participate in drug court instead of going to jail. The participant is then sent to a professional drug and alcohol counselor for assessment.
Drug or alcohol treatment plans are drawn up and participants must attend drug court regularly to be tested for drugs and alcohol.
Errol Castens contributed. Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@journalinc.com.