Dougherty Court Named a 2015-2016 National Criminal Justice/ Mental Health Collaboration Learning Site

Submitted by Judge Stephen Goss, Superior Court, Dougherty Judicial Circuit

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) selected the Dougherty Superior Court Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division as one of four peer-to-peer learning sites as part of the National Criminal Justice/Mental Health Collaboration Learning Sites Program.

altThe 2015-2016 Mental Health Court Collaboration Learning Sites were selected by the CSG Justice Center and BJA as examples of successful collaborations between the criminal justice and mental health systems that provide a range of effective responses  to people with mental illnesses who are involved with the criminal justice system. These four sites have shown an ability to provide guidance to other jurisdictions interested in starting or expanding a collaboration between criminal justice and mental health systems, and a commitment to advancing the field. The Dougherty Superior Court program has worked for the last decade in collaboration with the CSG Justice Center and BJA to perform outreach to new mental health court programs and to develop supervision and treatment programs for persons with mental illness returning to the community from jail or prison.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Collaboration Learning Sites work with the CSG Justice Center and BJA to share their expertise with other agencies across the country. The 2015-2016 learning sites will, for example, host jurisdictions interested in learning more about their programs, answer questions from the field through phone, email, and online training sessions, and work with the CSG Justice Center to develop resources that help advance the field.

In addition to this site in Albany, Georgia, the three other 2015-2016 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Court Learning Sites are:

Bonneville County (ID) Mental Health Court
New York (NY) EAC’s Mental Health Diversion Program
Ramsey County (MN) Mental Health Court

“The Mental Health/Substance Abuse Court has made an incredible difference. Offenders are handled in a way that is appropriate to their underlying issues. The Sheriff’s Office, through treatment programs at the jail, works closely with the court,” said Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul.

“As a former prosecutor, I can say that the Dougherty Superior Court Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division has had a profound impact on the community. By providing individualized plans in partnership with mental service providers, this program has greatly reduced cyclical pathways to incarceration for persons with mental illness, ” said Chris Cohilas, Dougherty County Commission Chairman.

For more information on the Criminal Justice/Mental Health Collaboration Learning Sites Program, a collaboration between the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a division of the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice, please go here.

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