Judge Jimmy Turner Talks Drug Court’s Success on The Rutherford Magazine Show with Mike Sparks

Rutherford county Judge Jimmy James Turner

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to host Rutherford County Judge James ‘Jimmy’ Turner on my radio show—The Rutherford Magazine Show. Judge Turner was appointed to oversee the Circuit Court for Rutherford and Cannon Counties by Governor Bill Lee in January of 2021. Turner was appointed as the 16th Judicial District Judge, replacing the Honorable Judge David Bragg who retired at the start of 2021. Judge Bragg served honorably on the bench for 12-years.

The Circuit Court Judge not only oversees criminal cases, but also is responible for the Rutherford County Drug Court Program. If you’re not familiar with the drug court program I would encourage you to sit through a graduation service.

What Is Drug Court?
Drug courts are specifically for persons with substance use disorders. These court programs offer individuals the opportunity to enter long-term drug treatment and agree to court supervision rather than receiving a jail sentence. The intensive program requires participants to maintain recovery, take on responsibilities, and work towards lifestyle changes. Under the supervision and authority of the court, their progress is monitored.

“I personally struggled with mental health and alcoholism for more than 20 years. After my 3rd DUI in 2010, I was accepted as a participant of the Rutherford County DUI court program, which was overseen by the Honorable Judge Don Ash. I can say this was a pivotal moment in my recovery. Fast forward about 10 years, I have had the pleasure of working with the Rutherford County Recovery Court program as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist.  To be able to share my personal experience of hope and a future while walking alongside drug court participants has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had. Attending treatment team meetings with Judge Jimmy Turner, I also personally witnessed his passion to assist individuals in reaching long-term recovery as well as his compassion toward the ones who might continue to struggle. That is truly one of the biggest highlights that makes the Drug Court Program as effective as it is and in turn changes individual lives, families and especially the community in which we reside.”
~ Jolie Mallette Shipley (Drug Court Recovery Specialist)


Drug courts were created to steer offenders with minor drug charges towards treatment instead of imprisonment. Substance abuse is related to approximately 78% of property crimes and 77% of public order offenses, costing the US an estimated $74 billion annually in court, police, probation, parole, and prison expenses. Substance-involved offenders have a higher likelihood of reoffending than sober individuals. Ultimately, drug courts reduce crime and affect real and create positive change in people’s lives. There’s no doubt drug courts reduce recidivism and save our taxpayers money—I tend to agree I have personally witnessed its success.

“Drug Court is one of the many pathways to recovery that has the potential to change your life forever.    The tools provided to maintain a life of recovery can serve you for a lifetime.”
~ Rhonda Rush (Drug Court Recovery Specialist)

Encouragement & Having Vision Matters
Judge Turner presides over the ceremony at the Rutherford County Judicial Center and encourages the graduates. He tries to offer some hope thropughout the difficult tiome in the grduate’s lives—we all could use some hope. At every graduation Turner shares the story of the small town of Enterprise, Alabama. He tells the story of why the town of Enterprise has a  a monument of a bug—honoring the boll weevil. The boll weevil was a devastating pest that wreaked havoc on the South’s cotton industry in the early 1900s. However, the farmers in Enterprise used this disaster as an opportunity to diversify their crops, leading to a more prosperous future for the town. Since the bugs arrival from Mexico in 1892, the weevil has cost the American cotton industry of more than $23 billion in losses—which prompted the largest eradication effort in the nation’s history.

According to an article by Smithsonian Magazine, Farmers in Enterprise decided the could switch to alternative crops that were not vulnerable to the boll weevil—but cotton was the most lucrative crop and could be grown on marginal land. These lands were characterized by sandy and well-drained soil, which was not suitable for many crops except peanuts. In 1916, after visiting Virginia and North Carolina where peanuts were being grown, Sessions brought peanut seeds back to sell to C.W. Baston, a local farmer. Baston planted his entire crop in peanuts and earned $8,000, paying off his previous debts and still had surplus money. In contrast, cotton production in Coffee County had reduced to only 1,500 bales.

Related: Judge Jimmy Turner Joins Mike Sparks on WGNS Radio 100.5 FM The Rutherford Magazone Show

Baston’s success with peanuts soon became widespread, and farmers who had previously disregarded the idea of planting anything besides cotton quickly jumped on the peanut bandwagon. Within a year, farmers in the region produced over 1 million bushels of peanuts, which were sold for more than $5 million, according to Bradley.

“Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities.”

Proferssor Jordan Peterson~ 12 Rules for Life

The citizens of Enterprise recognized the boll weevil’s role in their town’s success and decided to erect a monument in its honor. The monument stands as a testament to the town’s resilience and ability to turn adversity into opportunity. It serves as a reminder of the power of having a vision for one’s future and the importance of making good decisions even in the face of hardship.

Having a vision for one’s future and making good decisions are crucial for success and fulfillment in life. It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose sight of our long-term goals and aspirations. However, by having a clear vision of where we want to be and what we want to achieve, we can stay focused and make decisions that align with our desired outcome.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.’

The scripture provides us valuable direction on how to make wise decisions in life. Trusting in the Lord with all our heart means that we place our faith and confidence in Him to guide us in the right direction. We should not rely solely on our own understanding, as our human perspective can be limited and flawed. Instead, we should seek God’s will in all that we do, allowing Him to lead us down the path that is best for us.

This verse also reminds us of the importance of seeking God’s will in all aspects of our lives, not just the big decisions. From the small choices we make every day to the significant milestones we reach, seeking God’s guidance can ensure that we stay on the right path.

We All Face Trials & Tribulations
In life, we all face trials, and tribulations. However, it is often through these experiences of hardships that we can learn valuable lessons and grow stronger as individuals. We can also use our personal struggles to help guide us in making good decisions in the future.

As the saying goes, we are a summation of the choices we make in our lives. Therefore, it is crucial to make wise decisions that align with our values and goals. We should strive to learn from our mistakes, reflect on our experiences, and use them to guide us towards a brighter future.

As Judge Turner shares the fascinating example of learning from past experiences is the story of Enterprise, Alabama. This small town in the southeastern United States erected a monument to honor the boll weevil, the most destructive pest in American history, in the early 1900s. The boll weevil destroyed much of the cotton crop in the region, causing economic devastation. However, the town’s farmers were forced to diversify their crops, leading to more sustainable agricultural practices and a more robust economy in the long run. Many in the town of Enterprise had vision and hope for a better future.

In conclusion, having a vision for one’s future, making good decisions, and learning from personal hardships, trials, and tribulations are essential components of a successful and fulfilling life. By trusting in God and seeking His guidance, we can make wise choices that align with our values and goals. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6, and keep trusting God to help you make good choices in life. And always remember to stay away from evil, as it is referred to in the 7th verse, which very few will mention—avoiding evil is a critical aspect of living a righteous life.

* If you or a loved one or you know someone battling addiction or alcoholism and need assistance call the crisis hotline.
This service is free! Call 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471).
* Teen Challenge Phone: (423) 756-5558

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