Alternative Sentencing Programs – Drug Court and Mental Health Court
The Adult Felony Drug Court Program was created in 2017. This program serves non-violent felony offenders who have substance abuse issues. The program is a minimum of 19 months in length and provides people with structure and accountability through intensive out-patient substance abuse counseling, regular drug screening, requiring employment, and community supervision. Positive interaction between the participant and criminal justice system is promoted through weekly reporting on his or her progress to the Court.
The program consists of five phases, and participants must meet specific criteria before moving up to the next phase. Throughout the program, participants are required to present projects to the Court and fellow participants that encourage their recovery from addiction. While in the program, offenders present their life history and a “goodbye letter” to addiction, among other projects. Prior to graduation, offenders present a detailed relapse prevention plan to the staff, the Court, and fellow participants. Drug Court also provides participants with meaningful ways to give back to the community and the Drug Court program, through the completion of “helping hours”, where participants are encouraged to engage in community service activities.
The program has proven successful to date. Twenty-five offenders have successfully graduated from the Drug Court program, and there are 44 current participants. Superior Court Judge Don Thompson presides over Drug Court, and Gretchen Neal serves as program coordinator. Drug Court meets weekly on Thursdays at 10:00AM in the Walker County courthouse.
Participants are accepted into the program on a referral system, provided they meet the legal and clinical criteria for the program. Attorneys, law enforcement, and members of the public are welcome to submit a referral for someone.
The below link provides additional information about legal qualifications for drug court, contact information, and referral forms.
Letter from a Drug Court Graduate
Mental Health Court
The Mental Health Court program was instituted in 2018. This program serves peoples who have untreated mental health conditions that have contributed to engagement in criminal activity. The program is a minimum of 18 months in length. Participants in Mental Health Court receive community-based treatment, including group and individual counseling, medication management, substance abuse counseling, and supervision.
The program consists of five phases, and participants must meet certain criteria before they are eligible to move up to the next phase. Participants are evaluated on their readiness to “phase up” prior to advancing to the next phase.
Prior to graduation, each participant organizes a “community give-back project.” For example, one participant solicited donations from the community to make personal hygiene bags for inmates upon their release from confinement. Another participant prepared over 100 spaghetti meals for those in need through his church.
Two individuals have successfully graduated from Mental Health Court, and there are 14 current participants. Chief Superior Court Judge Kristina Graham presides over the court, and Kelsey Topolski serves as program coordinator. Mental Health Court meets weekly on Tuesdays at 10:00AM in the Walker County courthouse annex building.
Participants are accepted into the program on a referral system, provided they meet the legal and clinical criteria for the program. Attorneys, law enforcement, and members of the public are welcome to submit a referral on an offender.
The below link provides additional information about legal qualifications for mental health court, contact information, and referral forms.