Thursday, September 29, 2022

Lafayette County Drug Court Graduates 26 Participants

By Alyssa Schnugg
News Editor

Twenty-six people who graduated Tuesday from the Third Circuit Drug Court received these medals. Photo by Alyssa Schnugg.

Twenty-six people were given a second chance at life Tuesday by graduating from the Third Judicial Drug Court, sober and in most cases, having their criminal record expunged.

Mindy was one of those graduates; however, her biggest reward for completing Drug Court was getting her two children back.

Dealing with drug addiction most of her adult life, her two children were removed from her care and were placed in foster care. After being arrested and placed into Drug Court, two years later she was able to be “the mom they deserved.”

“I have my own house, a car and a good job that I’m very grateful for. My children are very active in court and we keep God first as He should be,” she said during the graduation ceremony at the Lafayette County Courthouse. “We pray for others every night and I’m very thankful to those who prayed for me.”

It was the 15th graduation ceremony for the Drug Court since its inception in 2008.

Each participant must spend at least three years under the supervision of the Drug Court and comply with all program requirements before being eligible to graduate. About 325 people are currently enrolled in the Drug Court program, which includes Lafayette, Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Marshall, Tippah and Union counties.

Guest speaker Derek Eaves, former Ole Miss baseball player, was the guest speaker. He understood how addiction can affect a person and those around them all too well.

In 2012, Eaves got behind the wheel of his vehicle after a day of drinking with his life-long best friend, Will and his girlfriend. After losing control of the vehicle, it overturned. Eaves and his girlfriend were injured; however, Will was killed.

Eaves was charged with DUI manslaughter and sentenced to 25 years in prison; however, 20 years were suspended. He served about three years before being released in 2015.

While in prison, he got sober, found God and himself.

“I never had time before to read the Bible,” he said. “Well, in prison, all you have is time. I read the Bible once, then read it again.”

He told the graduates to use the tools they’ve been given while in Drug Court.

“You have all the tools you need to have a successful life,” he said. “But without having this program now, it’s on you to use them.”

The Third Judicial Drug Court is run locally by Circuit Court Judges Andrew Howorth — who started the Drug Court in Lafayette County — and Judge Kelly Luther. The Drug Court seeks to rehabilitate offenders through drug treatment and intense supervision with frequent court appearances and random drug testing. Drug courts offer the incentive of a chance to remain out of jail and be employed. Those who fail in the program could face a prison sentence; however, if they complete the program their criminal record is often expunged.

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