TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Concerned citizens and clergy filled the Lee County supervisors boardroom to support THE Justice Court Drug Court.
“Drug Court is a second chance court which helps young people turn their life around before they end up in the system,” Rev. Jeffery Gladney said to supervisors.
The state recently announced funding cuts to the programs. Lee County’s drug court was funded through state grants, and fees paid by participants.
Supporters are claiming that recent actions by certain county officials are making it tough to keep the program alive.
In a letter dated May 30th, County Prosecutor James Moore informed the justice court clerk that the state has withdrawn consent for any future referrals.
“With that looming, there was really no need in my opinion to refer any more people to the program because you hardly ever have someone finish this program in under a year and looking down long term without any funding from the state it’s going to be nearly impossible to keep the program going,” Moore said.
Drug Court supporters are also upset that Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson has started asking for reimbursement for housing and transporting participants. The sheriff says goes back to an original agreement between the county and the program.
“ The decision from the board was the county would not fund drug court if you look at the housing of inmates here and feeding and taking care and my staff taking care of it then you have to look at budgetary end of it and that’s costing the county money because I am the one paying them out of taxpayers money,” Sheriff Johnson said.
Still, drug court supporters say the county should be able to find the 75 thousand dollars needed to keep drug court afloat for the rest of the year.
“This is about saving lives, it’s about saving money and saving the community and I think all three of those things are important,” said James Hull.
Supervisors say they will consider the request as they make plans for the upcoming budget. Drug Court supporters delivered petitions signed by a thousand people, and promise to continue their efforts to keep drug court alive and in the public eye.