Cobb’s Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court coordinator honored with award

photo of Cobb Superior Court building from the front with a blue sky with clouds in the background

Katelyn Parker, the Coordinator of Cobb Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court, was honored with the distinguished Tommy Day Wilcox Award at the Accountability Court training conference in Athens, GA. Presented by the Georgia Council of Accountability Court Judges (CACJ), this award recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to Accountability Courts and who demonstrate exemplary leadership in their field. Parker’s  efforts and dedication have helped countless veterans find healing, hope, and a second chance within the criminal justice system.

The Tommy Day Wilcox Award, named after retired Bibb County Superior Court Judge Tommy Day Wilcox, was established to honor him for creating Georgia’s first Drug Court in 1994. This award holds significant prestige within the field as it recognizes outstanding service and leadership in the realm of Accountability Courts.

Katelyn Parker, having served with Cobb County’s Veterans Court for over six years, was one of the first coordinators in the state to achieve certification as a Court Coordinator. Her commitment, attention to detail, and exceptional work ethic set her apart from her peers within the field. Working closely with Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard, she leads a multidisciplinary team that works  to support veterans in their journey to reclaim their lives.

The Mission of Cobb County’s Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court

Cobb County’s Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court (VATC) is an integral part of the county’s criminal justice system. It is specifically designed to assist veterans who find themselves involved in the justice system due to substance use or mental health issues arising from their military service. Instead of incarceration, these individuals are provided with the opportunity for treatment and rehabilitation.

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The VATC aims to achieve several objectives. First, it strives to enhance public safety by reducing recidivism rates among participating veterans. Secondly, it seeks to alleviate the burden on taxpayers by transitioning veterans from being inmates to productive members of society. The program accomplishes this by offering comprehensive case management services that address mental health concerns. Lastly, it provides a structured and accountable environment that echoes the military experience and promotes stability and healing for participants.

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.

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