Drug court provides second chance - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Drug court provides second chance

Drug court is an intensive rehabilitation program and takes several years to complete. (Photo source: WLOX) Drug court is an intensive rehabilitation program and takes several years to complete. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Thursday marks a new beginning for the 16 graduates of Gulfport's drug court. 

Matthew Tyler Hughes was all smiles at the ceremony, much different than five-years ago when he was sent to prison on drug charges. 

"It was a rough time for me," Hughes said.  

His life started turning around when he was invited into drug court, a second chance for non-violent offenders. Hughes was motivated to graduate after learning he would be a father.

"I just wanted to strive to get off this program so I can give my full attention to this pretty girl," said Hughes. "This is my main first priority right here," Hughes said. 

Drug court is an intensive rehabilitation program and takes several years to complete. 

"We try to make sure that they have a plan in place, and we make sure that they get treatment," said coordinator Stan Arrington. "So once they do all these things and put it together, it's just basically a matter of time." 

Many don't finish the program, but the ones who do and walk across the stage as graduates have their criminal records wiped clean. 

"These people have worked so hard to try and get where they are today," Arrington said. "Most of them came, they were not willing to be here, but you can see their reward for all the hard work. So we're very proud of all of them."

With a fresh start, a family, and new career, Hughes is committed to staying drug-free. 

"This program does work, it really does work if you want it to," Hughes said. "It's a blessing."

Thursday's graduation ceremony was for the second circuit drug court program made up of Hancock, Harrison and Stone Counties. 

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