Former USM football star endorses drug courts - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Former USM football star endorses drug courts

© Former USM football star speaks about his history with drug abuse, addiction and the law. © Former USM football star speaks about his history with drug abuse, addiction and the law.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Reggie Collier took the podium in front of hundreds of people Wednesday not to talk about his star turn as a University of Southern Mississippi quarterback, but to talk about drug addiction and the law.

"Sometimes you can't help yourself so to speak," says Collier. "Some people say 'well you shouldn't (help), lock em up, throw away the key."

But the judges, officers, justices, attorneys and social workers in attendance at the three-day convention don't want to throw away any keys.

"The drug court, what is does is it tries to rehabilitate a person that has a drug charge," says Linda Edison, the president of Mississippi Association of Drug Court Professionals. "They go through the drug court-some of the drug courts are a year, some of them two years ... and once they complete the program, then their record is expunged."

"The difference between this and prison is most of the time, if you send someone to prison for two or three years, they graduate into better convicts or better offenders," said Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. "And drug courts turns people back into responsible citizens."

The aim of this conference is to showcase resources available for the 43 drug court programs across the state. There is a huge and growing market for drug prevention and monitoring tools including ankle bracelet monitors, breathalyzer car hookups and goggles to simulate the vision of an intoxicated person.

The chief argument against drug courts is that some folks just don't deserve second chances. And Collier says the court - and the second chance that they can offer - is just half of it.

"You got to want to get out of it. You've got to want to get out and lead a productive life and enjoy these things this world has to offer - you know instead of being stuck like I was for years."

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