Paulding County Mental Health Court First Graduation
Paulding County Court House, July 23, 2020, 3:00 PM - Under the direction of Paulding County's Superior Court Judge, T. David Lyles, the county's Mental Health Court inducted its first participant in January of 2019. A graduation was held on July 23rd, 2020, to celebrate the first graduate of the program. Our invocation was done by Ronald Coleman from Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, and the keynote speaker was Marion Beecham, who spoke about his son's experience with mental illness.
The Paulding County Mental Health Court is an 18-month program that offers a less costly, more effective alternative to incarceration. It improves the response to individuals with mental illnesses who have come in contact with the criminal justice system. Participants are provided intensive outpatient mental health and substance abuse counseling, medical follow-up, frequent random drug and alcohol testing, random home visits, and strict curfew monitoring. The program provides participants with assistance in obtaining employment, housing, and furthering their education. Judge Lyles conducts frequent compliance hearings to review their progress and incentives are given to those who are meeting the program's expectations.
The team who runs the program under Judge Lyles consists of Assistant District Attorney Mike Viscuse, Public Defender Sarah Powers, Delicia Julien LAPC Counselor, Community Supervision Officer Christy Howard, Deputy Clint Barker PCSO, and Court Coordinator Lauren Ortiz.
"As we reflect on the powerful changes that our graduate has made in the last 18 months, I look forward to seeing what she does in the next 18 years. I believe we have seen a change in her that has launched her onto a successful path to thoughtfulness, goal setting, and long term achievements. She can do anything she sets her mind to. I am grateful that Paulding County and Judge Lyles have invested in a program that can launch new beginnings for our citizens struggling with mental health issues. Fixing a crisis starts by fixing an individual. " said Sarah Powers Public Defender.
" It's an absolute joy to see the participants as they grow and change each month. It's very rewarding!" remarked Delicia Julien LAPC Counselor.
"Mental Health Court addresses the complex cases of justice-involved defendants with mental health conditions and often substance abuse issues. It is an amazing feeling of pride for the participant when they are able to reconnect with their families, friends, and the community in a productive, law-abiding way." Lauren Ortiz Court Coordinator.
Team pictures are Lauren Ortiz coordinator, Christy Howard Dept Community Supervision, Delicia Julien Court Counselor, Clint Barker PCSP, Sarah Powers Public Defenders Office, Mike Viscuse ADA, and Judge Lyles in the rear. 2nd picture is Ron Coleman on the left, and Marion Beecham from NAMI Dalton center, Graduate shaking Judge Lyles' hand on the right.