Federal funds OK’d to expand Oxford alcohol program

Published 4:10 pm Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The city of Oxford will receive a $335,043 federal grant to join with the University of Mississippi to expand a DUI-treatment program.

For the past two years, the city and Ole Miss have provided the Brief Alcohol/Drug Screening and Intervention for College Students program to address the problem of repeat offenders among the students getting citations for alcohol offenses, such as public drunkenness, minors in possession and first offense DUI.

Any student who either pleaded guilty to these alcohol-related offenses or was convicted of the charges by Municipal Judge Larry Little is sent through the BASICS program. The program is broken down into three steps: an initial screening process to what caused the problem, individual counseling and group discussions.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Mayor Richard Howorth said the city wanted to expand the program into the community.

“We encouraged the university to expand the program and they are not always able to obtain certain grants that municipalities can,” Howorth said about the funds provided to the city.

Marc Showalter, director of Ole Miss counseling services, said plans are to possibly implement a program similar to that of BASICS for community offenders.

“Initially we talked about creating a similar program for the community because of the success rate we’ve had with the college students,” Showalter said.

The goal of the BASICS program is to help those who enter it improve their decision-making skills and prevent minor infractions from turning into something more serious.

“This is an issue that affects the entire community and this is a fantastic opportunity to provide a service that really makes a difference,” Showalter said.

Local counselors and those involved with the court systems will be asked to help establish the program in the Oxford community, Showalter said.

The Ole Miss Counseling Center will continue to coordinate the BASICS program.

Exactly when the program will be put in place depends on when the funds are distributed, Showalter said.

“We can have something in place in a few months once we get the funds,” he said.