Program offers alternative to prison for some non-violent offenders

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The 12th Circuit Court offers a program for selected non-violent offenders who can be diverted from the state correction's system to some structured community service program.

The program was established by then District Attorney John mark Weathers and to date 162 individuals have successfully completed the program. Of those none of have had a felony conviction since.

There are currently 200 individuals enrolled in the program. They perform community service for several non-profit charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.

District Attorney, Patricia Burchell calls it a great program and it's been very successful.

"We've seen a very low recidivism rate. Offenders are not coming back through the system," said Burchell. "They get their GED program, their counseling services. It's just an excellent alternative program."

Many of participants in the program worked with Pearl River Opportunities Thursday distributing 400 boxes of food to Seniors in Palmers Crossing.

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