Lafayette County’s Third Judicial Drug Court recognizes 32 who complete program

Published 10:09 am Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thirty-two 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.

Robin was one of those graduates and she admitted there were times she didn’t think she’d make it through the three-year-long program.

“We can all fall, but we can all get back up,” she said. “Thank you, Drug Court, for pushing me to be the woman I am today.”

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Robin kept her words short but shared her message by doing an interpretive dance to a song about getting back up when life knocks you down.

It was the 13th graduation ceremony for the Drug Court since its inception in 2008.

Guest speaker, Andy Taggart, told the graduates that most people would say they would never want a loved one sitting in those seats.

“I would be very happy for a family member to be sitting in one of those chairs,” he said.

Taggert, an attorney, author and former executive director of Mississippi Republican Party and Chief of Staff for former Gov. Kirk Fordice, shared his story with those attending Tuesday’s ceremony.

“In 2012, our youngest son, Brad, took his life in the front yard of our home,” he said. “He had a drug problem we knew nothing about until his death. My son won’t get to sit in that seat, but your lives have been changed.”

Taggart called substance abuse a “vile, vicious enemy.”

“We can’t fight this enemy with worldly weapons,” he said.

Before he committed suicide, Brad left his family a letter that apologized for the grief he would cause and explained the physical, intellectual and psychological toll of drug addiction. Taggart shared the letter with the graduates.

“I have no hope, no reason to continue on. I feel nothing. I’ve ruined my mind, my brain and my life,” Brad said in his final words to his family.

Taggart said those struggling with the substance abuse must take on the enemy using the word of God, their own brain power, their story and mostly, prayer.

“Take the fight back to the monster and use the right weapons,” he said.

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 drug using 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.