September is National Recovery Month, so it’s fitting that Cobb County’s DUI Court will celebrate its fifteenth year of operation next week.
The ceremony will take place on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at 3:30 p.m., at the Historic Strand Theatre on the Square, located at 117 North Park Square, Marietta, GA.
According to the county’s news release about the event, “The Honorable Eric A. Brewton will preside over the DUI Court commencement ceremony. We will celebrate the graduates over the past 15 years of the program and hear from alumnus and award-winning author Melissa Gissy Witherspoon, author of: ‘I’m Sober… So Now What?’”
The court has held 48 commencement ceremonies since it was founded in October 2008.
According to Dr. Mark Rosekind, former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator, “DUI and Drug Courts play a critical role in helping our entire country reach zero… no more crashes, deaths or injuries from a substance-impaired driver.”
Twelve graduates are expected to take part in this graduation ceremony.
The DUI Court differs from Cobb’s other accountability courts in two ways.
One is that the DUI court is targeted at multiple-offense candidates.
The other is that rather than avoiding jail time altogether, the goal is to reduce incarceration time and fines with a mandatory 24-month rigorous program.
Here are the benefits and requirements of the DUI court as listed on its website:
Benefits of the Program
- Less jail time;
- A reduction in fine(s) by one-half, conditioned upon successful completion of the program;
- Community service credit of 200 hours for successfully completing all phases of the program;
- Affordable treatment and alcohol/drug testing;
- Supervision in meeting license reinstatement requirements; and
- Support in achieving sobriety
To be eligible for consideration, applicants must:
- Be charged with their 2nd DUI in ten years, 3rd or more in lifetime, or 1st DUI with a history of reckless driving convictions;
- Have sufficient charges to support a 24-month sentence;
- Be a Cobb County resident;
- Be 17 years of age or older;
- Show an indication of alcohol/drug abuse or dependence;
- Have no prior convictions for violent felonies or current charges (either felony or misdemeanor) involving the use of force against another;
- Have no out-of-state warrants; and
- Have a valid immigration status with no ICE (immigration) holds
The cost of the program is $75 per week. This amount includes treatment and alcohol/drug testing. Any additional treatment (such as placement in a residential facility or halfway house) that a participant may require while in the program will be at his or her own expense. Participants who challenge positive test results, which confirm positive, or who are placed on additional monitoring, will be required to pay for services at their own expense.
About Cobb County’s 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
“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.