Jackson County Business Leaders Asked To Back Drug Court

Arguments for why Jackson County needs a drug court went before an important jury on Tuesday, the business community. Three circuit court judges are trying to drum up $150,000 dollars needed to start a rehabilitation program for drug addicts convicted of non-violent drug related crimes.

Judge Robert Krebs make his case to members of the Chamber of Commerce. "I don't know if this program is perfect. I just know it's another attempt to deal with the problems that society has lain out there for us.

Judge Krebs is on a campaign along with two other circuit court judges to open people's eyes to Jackson County's drug problem. The deep caring in his voice. convinced some business leaders to open their wallets and support a drug court.

Steve Renfro, a spokesman for Chevron, says his company plans to make a donation. "The judges were so passionate about it," he said. "They've seen it work. It's worked in George County. It's worked in other places in the state."

Not everyone made up their minds on the judge's word alone. Chamber president Terry Carter went George County. He told the group that he "saw 28 adults with an improved self image where you couldn't tell they were a convicted felons."

Carter says when convicted felons are sitting in a cell, it cost taxpayers money. However, when they're working, supporting their children, and paying taxes on the other hand, it makes for a better economy.

"Drugs are a problem in the work force. Whether it's a large industry or a small independently owned business, employees are using drugs." he said. "It's a matter of time before the employees are caught and this is an added cost to business. We as a business community have to find a way to effectively deal with the drug problem in Jackson county and I am convinced that this drug court is one proactive approach in dealing with that problem."

Drug court started in George and Green counties in November 2001. Since then Judge Robert Krebs says the counties and the state have saved about 261 thousand dollars in combined inmate housing expenses.