Vernon Cotten
Vernon Cotten
Circuit Judge Vernon R. Cotten has duly qualified to announce his candidacy for re-election to the office of Circuit Judge, Place II of the Eighth Judicial District Circuit Court of Mississippi for a fourth term of service. He has served in the office of his appointment, by former Governor Kirk Fordice, since November, 1997.

In support of his candidacy for re-election he points to being responsible for many innovative and successful programs, the most well known and successful being the formation of the first certified Drug Court in Mississippi in 2004. The Eighth Circuit Judicial District Drug Court model has been replicated numerous times across the State and has also been recognized at the national level (by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Washington, DC).

Since its inception, the Drug Court has collected and returned $436,650.00 of fines and fees to the Eighth District which includes Leake, Scott, Newton and Neshoba Counties. Also the Drug Court has graduated 121 individuals, thus being directly responsible for the reuniting of countless mothers with their children; fathers with their families, and the establishment of clean and sober individuals as productive members of society.

Judge Cotten describes his Drug Court as a journey rather than a destination for those approved by law enforcement entering into the five year regimented program.

In an effort to serve and rehabilitate a wide spectrum of people, the Drug Court has expanded over the years, establishing a Veterans Component, whereby US Veterans who have served our country honorably, but now have violated the law, are given the opportunity to address their substance abuse issues without incurring a conviction record.

He has also established a Probation Violators Component which allows Probationers to gain control of their addictions without being returned to prison - thereby saving thousands of taxpayer dollars.

He has further established a DUI Component wherein drinking drivers are kept off the highways, but given the opportunity for treatment and help in controlling their destructive drinking habits. In short, your Drug Court has flourished and succeeded beyond our best expectations.

In 2013 Judge Cotten was appointed by the Chief Justice of the MS Supreme Court, to serve as a member of the Mississippi Department of Corrections Task Force Committee, to study how the felony sentencing structure in our State's criminal justice system can be reformed, by saving money for MDOC and taxpayers, while at the same time protecting the public safety.

With the current corrections budget at $319 million dollars, he believes now is the time to reform the law, writing legislation, so that public safety is maintained reserving prison for violent offenders (30%), while rehabilitating offenders in need of treatment (70%) with alternative options, such as drug courts, etc.

The old ways of "lock 'em up and throw away the key" are long past, and simply have proven ineffective, recurring and expensive.

Judge Cotten, being at the very heart of these issues, serving as your Circuit Judge, knows his work is not finished and therefore respectfully requests your consideration and solicits your vote for re-election as your Circuit Judge, Place II, on November 4, 2014.