Children victimized by parents' drug use
By Jody O'Hara
Sep 5, 2013, 09:42
More and more, law enforcement personnel are having to involve the Mississippi Department of Human Services when drug busts are made.
It is the result of the State of Mississippi's Drug Endangered Children law.
When children are found in a home where drug activity is found to have taken place, state law requires that DHS be called and they must respond.
"This is not a matter of, 'we wanted to, or DHS wanted to,' this is a requirement of state law," said Capt. Jay Green of the Stone/Wiggins Narcotics Task Force. "When we find minor children in a home where there is suspected drug activity, the process is put into effect."
Two Stone County residents are facing felony charges because of drug activity while children were present.
Lacy Jackson was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and also faces felony child neglect charges.
Megan Grice was charged with felony child abuse when it was determined illicit drugs were being trafficked through a house in which she lived with her child.
"As a parent with children of my own, it breaks my heart to go in a house and see how some children are living because their parents would rather buy the drugs than feed their kids," Green said. "We recently executed a search warrant where there were two children in the house.
"There was no furniture, no food for the kids; yet mom and dad had a king-sized bed, a flat-screen television and drugs to do."
Green said the lack of nourishment showed on the children and he asked them what they ate.
He said they told him when there was money, they ate and when there wasn't money, they didn't.
"All the while, daddy's got $400 in cash in his wallet," he said.
A representative of DHS told Green that Stone County had a very high incidence of children needing to be removed under the Drug Endangered Children law.
"This seems to be the season we get a lot of calls," a representative of DHS, who wished to not be identified, said. ""i don't know if it's the height of summer, the economy or what."
The DHS representative said everything possible was done to keep families together and, when that wasn't possible, to keep the children as close to home as possible.
That's not easy because there is a shortage of foster homes in Stone County.
"We desperately need foster homes; we need people to step up open their homes in our county," the DHS representative said. "There are wonderful, compassionate people in this county and I don't think they're aware of the need."
Green said if children are taken from their home, they are usually tested for the presence of drugs in their system.
"DHS will do a hair follicle test and, if drugs are found, move to terminate parental rights," he said.
Those wishing to become licensed as foster parents should call Family and Children Services at 601-928-4996 or 601-528-7001.
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