CLARKESVILLE – Superior court judges in Habersham County soon will have another resource to help offenders with mental health issues.
Monday night, the Habersham County Commission voted unanimously to proceed with creation of a new grant-funded mental health court and a part-time coordinator for that court.
“Mental health court will be a treatment program through the superior court system that will be available for those who are incarcerated in jail with severe mental health issues that have not historically had any treatment options,” the executive summary from County Manager Phil Sutton states.
The grant award began Jan. 1 and ends June 30, and the current maximum capacity for the program is 15 participants.
During the meeting, Accountability Court Coordinator Beth Pelaccio and Superior Court Judge Russell Smith discussed the proposed court with commissioners.
While the new court will meet in Stephens County due to scheduling and other factors, it still will serve participants from Habersham, Rabun and Stephens, which make up the Mountain Judicial Circuit.
“I think it would benefit all of the counties,” Smith said.
Following Monday night’s meeting, 2019 Habersham County Commission Chairman Stacy Hall discussed the advantages of creating the new court.
“As most folks know, a lot of our jails are full with folks that are battling mental health issues,” Hall said. “Not to stretch too far, but a lot of the shootings nationwide really start with a lot of the mental health issues. This is just a way we can continue to battle mental health issues and help those that need help.”’