Court Watch Program Expands Into Pike County

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

It's a new program some religious leaders say will hold local officials accountable to their decisions in court. Now the Court Watch program is expanding into Pike County.

Both UNITE leaders and judges say the drug cases are going up and they want to find a way to reduce them. They hope studying the court system will help find a way to keep drug users off the streets for good.

Accused drug offenders fill Pike County courtrooms every weekday.

"It's just so commonplace now," said Pike County District Court Judge Kelsey Friend Jr.

And they're not sure what to do.

"It's a growing problem, not a decreasing problem with all that we try to do," Friend said.

UNITE Pike Director Amber Campbell wants to find a solution so she's starting a Court Watch committee.

"It kind of makes everyone accountable for their actions," Campbell said.

The program is modeled after committees in counties with reduced drug crimes. Committee members will sit in court and track alleged drug offenders' cases from beginning to end and put them in a database. Then they can note patterns of how drug cases are handled and make suggestions for improvement.

"I think it's a very good concept," Friend said.

Judges welcome them to their courtrooms saying they have the same goal, reducing drug crimes.

"I think when people see how many cases actually come up on the docket that involves alcohol and drug charges, they'll understand the need for treatment," Friend said.

UNITE Pike officials say they plan to submit their statistics for treatment center grants to give the judges another option besides jail time, and in turn get people off drugs.

They're still looking for more committee members. If interested, you must go through a training session. You can contact UNITE Pike for more information.

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