06 Jan Addressing the Individual – How Georgia Courts are Making a Difference
Addressing the Individual – How Georgia Courts are Making a Difference
The criminal justice system has become the treatment center for many people that suffer from mental illness and drug addictions. Thankfully, Georgia has taken steps to prevent overcrowding in the jails and has shifted towards treating people suffering from these issues in the hopes that individuals won’t become repeat offenders and be able to lead normal lives.
Drug Court –
Several counties in Georgia have “drug courts” that have a holistic approach to helping offenders avoid become recidivists and help them recover from their addiction. Drug courts also serve to reduce the amount of people housed in Georgia’s jails and save taxpayer dollars. Offenders placed into drug courts will be expected to actively engage in their recovery from addiction by undergoing the rigorous court enforced program. Drug courts offer counseling, monitoring and supervision, weekly in-court appearances, NA/AA/12 step meetings, random drug testing, and support groups.
Behavioral/Mental Health Treatment Court –
One of the largest problems encumbering the criminal justice system is the question of how to help people suffering from mental illness. Roughly 20 – 25% of the Fulton County Jail detainees are mentally ill and “one-third of all defendants housed in the Fulton County Jail receive some type of psychotropic medication and more than 75 percent test positive for illegal drugs upon arrival (or refuse to take the test).” In 2006, the Department of Justice reported that 56.2% of inmates in State prisons have some type of mental issue.
Mental health courts in Georgia strive to prevent recidivism by helping people treat their mental illnesses. These courts aim to evaluate people to determine if they need treatment, develop treatment plans, evaluate individuals’ risk for recidivism, and help individuals kick chemical dependency if they have been self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. The mental health courts also requires these individuals to earn GEDs and take life/social skills courses to aid in obtaining employment.
Veteran’s Court –
In cases where the defendant is a veteran, multiple Georgia counties have specialized veterans’ courts that are more equipped to handle the issues facing our veterans such as PTSD and the increased rates of alcoholism and domestic violence. Veteran’s courts provide tailored counseling for these individuals to enable them to reintegrate successfully back into society.
While nobody wants to enter the criminal justice system, Georgia courts are attempting to personalize the avenues available to its citizens by tailoring programs to the individual’s needs as well as that of the community.