Community Unites to Face Drug Problem

JANUARY 23, 2007 -- POSTED AT 10:30 P.M. CST

NEWPORT, AR -- In Jackson County, drugs have taken over. Everyday, people are in and out of jail all because of a growing drug addiction to meth.

"I'd say at least 80 percent [of my court cases] are drug related in some way," says Jackson County District Judge Barbara Griffin.

And it's a problem that District Judge Griffin says is just getting worse.

"Since I took office in 2005, I have seen an increase. It's just been a steady flow and it's not slacking up," says Judge Griffin.

But the people of this community say it can get better. The Newport town meeting was standing room only Tuesday night as community leaders and citizens met to talk about the drug problem in their county.

We introduced you a few months ago to Pastor Tim Bumpous, the founder of Project New Start. Faith based meth rehab homes for both men and women of Northeast Arkansas. Its programs like this that the community says they're behind.

"It's a lot easier to ignore the problem but what we want to do and I don't believe in talking about doing something. We want to try to do something. We are hands on," says Bumpous.

Community leaders like Judge Griffin say that's the purpose of the town meeting; to unite as a community and show the citizens that the leaders are behind their efforts.

"I'd much rather see someone straighten out their life and become productive than to just see the revolving door in and out of jail," says Judge Griffin.

"There is a way to solve it and that's what we want to figure out is how to help. We want our citizens to be safe. We want people that when they come to Newport to be proud of their city and I believe that starts within each individual," says Bumpous.

Even if that individual loses their way.

"We want to provide a way out for young men and women to be drug free instead of just go to prison the rest of their life," adds Bumpous.