Cobb sheriff’s deputy receives award for her work with accountability courts

Diane WattsDeputy Diane Watts (Photo courtesy of Cobb County Superior Court)

According to a public information release from Cobb County Superior Court, the statewide Council of Accountability Court Judges has given its STAR Award to Cobb Sheriff’s Deputy Diane Watts for her work with Cobb’s Accountability Courts.

The STAR Awards give recognition in the following categories:

  • Case Manager
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
  • Coordinator/Director
  • Defense Attorney
  • DFACS Case Manager
  • FTC Attorney (SAAG, Parent Attorney or Child Attorney)
  • Judge
  • Peer Support Specialist
  • Prosecutor
  • Probation
  • Law Enforcement/Surveillance Officer
  • Treatment Provider
  • Veteran Mentor Coordinator

The Superior Court’s announcement states, “Accountability courts use a combination of close supervision and evidence-based treatment to hold offenders accountable for their actions and teach them to be productive members of the community.”

Watts has served as the Community Outreach Law Enforcement team member of Cobb’s DUI Court, the Veterans Accountability & Treatment Court, the Mental Health Court, and the Drug Treatment Court.

“Through her dedication to helping change lives and her unmatched work ethic, Deputy Watts has made a lasting positive impact on our accountability courts. Any time anyone — staff or participant — needs anything, she always volunteers to help,” said Superior Court Judge Kimberly Childs, who presides over the Drug Treatment Court. “Our accountability courts, and the citizens of Cobb County, are fortunate to have her on our team!”

The award was presented during the annual conference of the Council of Accountability Court Judges (CACJ) in Athens this week.

Deputy Watts said that the following quote, attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, guides her: “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

“No matter where I go in Cobb County, folks are always telling me how much they enjoy their interactions with Deputy Watts in the courts and the community,” Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens said. “She represents the best of the Sheriff’s Office and the law enforcement community.”

About the Accountability Courts

Materials distributed by Cobb County Superior Court describe Cobb’s four accountability courts as follows:

“Cobb Superior Court has four such courts: Drug Treatment Court, which includes both regular and intermediate tracks; Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court; Mental Health Court; and Parental Accountability Court. Various county and state offices collaborate with the judges and staff in operating individual accountability courts.”

The purpose of the accountability court program is to provide an alternative to incarceration for individuals who need counseling and treatment rather than punishment.

Drug Treatment Court

The website for the Drug Treat Court describes the program and its two tracks as follows:

“Drug Treatment Court is an accountability court designed to manage individuals with substance addiction by providing an alternative to the traditional justice system.

“The Court Is designed to improve the health of our participants, not only by addressing the immediate symptoms of their addiction but also orienting participants to a new way of healthier living which can be continued for the rest of their life.

“The Cobb County Drug Treatment Court offers two programs.

“The regular track is an 18- to 24-month program, dealing with high-risk, high-need participants.

“The Intermediate track is a 12- to 18-month program for participants diagnosed with a mild to moderate substance use disorder and deemed a lower risk of re-offending. A risk-needs-responsivity assessment is completed to determine participant placement.”

Mental Health Court

The website for the Mental Health Court describes that court and its mission as follows:

“Mental Health Court is a 24 month minimum, voluntary, pre or post-plea, judicially supervised, treatment-based program for those individuals with a documented mental health diagnosis.

“The Cobb County Mental Health Court strives to improve mental health, promote self sufficiency, reduce recidivism, and offer cost effective alternatives to incarceration and hospitalization.

“A Mental Health Court represents an effort to increase effective cooperation between two systems that have traditionally not worked closely together – The Mental Health System and The Criminal Justice System.

“The program will hold participants accountable while assisting them in achieving long term stability, becoming successful family/community members, and remain law abiding citizens.”

Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court

The Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court website describes that court as follows:

“Cobb County Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court (VATC) seeks to divert eligible veteran defendants with substance dependency and/or mental illness that are charged with criminal offenses, to a specialized criminal court.

“The court substitutes a treatment problem solving model for traditional court processing.

“The veterans voluntarily participate in a judicially supervised treatment plan that a team of court staff, veteran health care professionals, veteran peer mentors, and health care professionals develop with the veteran.

“At regular status hearings, treatment plans and other conditions are periodically reviewed for appropriateness, incentives are offered to reward adherence to court conditions, and sanctions for non-adherence are handed down.”

Parental Accountability Court

The website for the Parental Accountability Court describes its purpose as follows:

“PAC seeks to address underlying issues that make it difficult for non-custodial parents to pay child support while providing judges with an alternative to incarceration in civil contempt cases.

“The program uses a team approach to meet participants’ needs as they become more accountable for supporting their children.

“Members of the Parental Accountability Court Team include the Judge, Special Assistant Attorney General (SAAG), Parental Accountability Court Coordinator (PAC-C) from the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), DCSS local Office Manager, and representative(s) from the Cobb County Community Services Board (CSB).”

For more detailed information about the accountability courts visit this link to the Superior Court’s Accountability Court website and explore the specific programs you are interested in learning about.