Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders notes that Nunnelly oversaw the initial implementation of the COMBAT program.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker shows the plaque that will bear the names of the James T. Nunnelly Award winners.
County Legislators James Tindall and Dan Tarwater also pay tribute to Jim Nunnelly.
Since 1993, the Jackson County Drug Court has become a model for other communities across the nation. Among the more than 2,100 people to graduate from the program, the recidivism rate is about 10 percent.
"So many people use drugs who are not criminals," Nunnelly said following last Friday's event, "and I think at some point we have to learn how to separate and treat those who need to be treated and jail those who need to be jailed."
Joining the Circuit Court judges in honoring Nunnelly were Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, County Legislators James Tindall (2nd District) and Dan Tarwater (4th District), and officials from the Missouri Supreme Court.
"Thanks to Jim Nunnelly's vision 20 years ago, so many people have gotten a chance to turn their lives around through the Jackson County Drug Court," stated Sanders. "Drug Court graduates have seized that opportunity. Not only has the program changed their lives, but it's made ours a better, safer community -- by transforming the graduates into productive members of our society.
"What a remarkable difference Jim has made in this community and in the lives of so many of our citizens. Anyone receiving the James T. Nunnelly Award should be truly honored."