Drug Courts Debut in Craighead County

November 4, 2003 - Posted at 5:59 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR - Repeat drug offenders, with no record of violent or sex-related crimes, have a new chance at living their life outside of prison.  Craighead County's new drug court program, which debuts Tuesday evening, gives specific people an alternative to spending most of their lives behind bars.

Parole officer Courtney Mace and counselor Bridgette Cossey are facing a tough new challenge.  They are now Second District Drug Court employees, part of a drug treatment program already being used in other parts of Arkansas, now breaking new ground for repeat drug offenders.  "I have been a parole officer for five years, and this is a different route to take," said Mace.

The drug court program's judges, counselors and officers will be able to some repeat offenders a second chance at life, outside the county jail or state penitentiary.  "They can still be with their family and friends, they can still work and support their family, and have the outside interests they've always had, and still have their freedom," according to Mace.

Freedom to live on the other side of jail bars, while abiding by the drug court's plan of 12-step recovery, which includes intense counseling sessions toward a life without drug abuse and addiction problems.  "It's going to work for them, if they want it to work.  Of course, we're going to have offenders who relapse, and as counselors, we're going to have to determine what caused that relapse and work to try to prevent that from happening again," said Cossey.

The courtroom process for repeat drug offenders who meet specific criteria, will soon have a different look and attitude, hopefully helping a lot of people who are currently on a destructive path get back on track toward a new and better life.