Hancock County set to get a new juvenile drug court - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Hancock County set to get a new juvenile drug court

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Hancock County has a new juvenile drug court and a new program to provide legal representation for parents accused of abuse and neglect of children.

The new programs are intended to help address the large number of Hancock County children who have been taken into the custody of the Department of Human Services.

Hancock County Youth Court Referee Elise Deano said that parents’ drug use is the underlying cause in 80 percent of the cases in which she has ordered removal of children from parents’ custody.

Senior Chancery Judge Sandy Steckler, who supervises the Youth Court, said,

“I think the drugs are much worse than people know," said Senior Chancery Judge Sandy Steckler, who supervises the Youth Court. "The drug of choice that we have run into in Hancock County is crystal methamphetamine, which is a very difficult drug to overcome.”

The courts also see frequent instances of juvenile drug use.

Hancock County Youth Court during 2014 saw 126 juveniles who tested positive for drugs, had drug-related offenses, or both. 

From Jan. 1 through June 16 this year, 47 juveniles tested positive or had drug-related offenses, or both, and five were hospitalized for drug overdoses.

Juvenile drug use has progressed from marijuana to methamphetamine.

Hancock County Youth Court was granted provisional certification to operate a drug court on July 6. The goal is to begin accepting participants into the Hancock County Juvenile Drug Court in October.

The program will be funded with $75,000 from the State Drug Court Fund, said State Drug Court Coordinator Joey Craft.

"Drug court programs have been highly successful throughout our state," said Craft. "We hope that by implementing a juvenile program in Hancock County, we can offer officials one more tool to help decrease the incidence of drug abuse by teens in this community."

Drug courts are problem-solving courts which utilize drug treatment, drug testing, frequent court appearances and intense supervision.

Youths from age 12 to 17 who come under the jurisdiction of Hancock County Youth Court may be referred to the Juvenile Drug Court if they are found to have a substance use disorder.

Region 13 Mental Health will conduct crisis intervention, assessments and referrals to treatment. Treatment plans will be tailored to the individual.

Participants are expected to stay in the Juvenile Drug Court program from eight to 18 months, depending upon their progress

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