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Paulding Commissioners Consider Grant for Accountability Court Geared to Mentally-Ill

David Lyles PSC JdgePaulding Commissioners were expected to vote this week on whether or not they will approve a state grant that would provide for the first year start-up costs of a new accountability court geared to offenders with mental health issues.
According to Paulding Superior Court Judge David Lyles, an agenda item was slated to go before Paulding commissioners this week regarding the grant. Lyles said he will address the board regarding the logistics involved in establishing the new court.
Prior to the BoC’s Thursday meeting, Chairman David Carmichael also indicated that commissioners are interested in the program. Lyles said a timeline for the start-up if Paulding commissioners were to approve the grant, would depend on the hiring of the program’s coordinator.
“The grant is for $118,000 and some change, and there is a $13,000 match that the county would normally need to come up with, but we have a waiver for this year because we’re implementing this year. The timing of that -- a lot of it is going to depend on how soon we’re able to hire a coordinator; that will be the first thing that we need to do once we get approval from the commission,” Lyles said.
Lyles said that with the funding in place the program is targeted to start this fall. “My goal would be to start-up around October 1st, as far accepting participants and try to get up and running, but it’s going to be largely dependent upon being able to get a coordinator in place and make sure we have all our resources lined up,” Lyles said. This is the second program of its type to be launched in the county involving more intensive sentencing alternatives for offenders that allow for intensive treatment and responsibility for the offenders to take on.
Paulding’s Board of Commissioners green-lighted an opportunity to establish a felony drug court program headed by Judge Dean Bucci in June of 2015. A state grant provided for the start-up of the program by January of 2016, adding Paulding to the growing list of court systems throughout the state now pursuing similar programs as an alternative to incarceration for some offenders who successfully meet the requirements of the program.
Georgia’s inmate population doubled from 1990 to 2010 and the costs to support that system skyrocketed. It’s viewed as a trend that is unsustainable and accountability-style court programs such as these are being explored statewide and are showing results.