Mississippi has established drug courts throughout the state, which are managed by the state Administrative Office of the Courts and a drug court advisory committee.
Several pilot mental health courts have been established, and localities can create additional types of problem-solving courts at their discretion. Standards are set by the advisory committee, comprised primarily of judges whose incentives are not properly aligned to adopt evidence-based policies. Availability of court services varies due to participants’ financial ability to pay. This structure could be improved by adding a diverse range of practitioners to the committee. Additionally, the state should ensure that individuals are not denied the opportunity to participate in programming due to their inability to pay.
Availability of Problem-Solving Courts
Mississippi has established a statewide system of drug courts, with services available throughout the state. The courts are managed by individual circuit court districts, funded by state appropriation, and managed by the Administrative Office of the Courts and Drug Court Advisory Committee.
Mississippi’s drug court policies are determined by a Drug Court Advisory Committee comprised primarily of judges, who are not appropriately incentivized to adopt evidence-based practices. This arrangement results in a lack of evidence-based policies, with many drug courts extending participation periods far beyond the nationally recommended time frame, and imposing sanctions that result in undue financial hardships on defendants.
Access to Courts
Because state law allows individual courts to determine their policies regarding participation, many courts require participants to pay for their participation. This can limit participation to participants with financial means, creating disparate outcomes for individuals based on their ability to pay.
Breadth of Court Services
State law creates a pilot program for mental health courts in several jurisdictions throughout the state, and allows individuals courts to set up different types of problem-solving courts at their discretion.