Many people facing drug charges go through the Georgia court system each year. However, the state recognizes that although drug use and possession break the law, these activities are also generally the result of addiction. Putting people behind bars rather than providing treatment often results in the same behaviors upon release, to the detriment of society and the person who needs help staying clean.

The Georgia Accountability Court Adult Felony Drug Court is set up to help people avoida criminal conviction and receive the treatment they need.

Eligibility

To qualify, a person must be at least 18 years old, reside within the drug court’s jurisdiction and have no pending charges outside the county. Part of the voluntary process is admitting responsibility for the offense, acknowledging that there is a substance abuse issue and pleading guilty. The following convictions or charges are disqualifiers:

·       Violent felony

·       Residential burglary

·       Drug trafficking or distribution charges

·       Sexual conviction or pending sexual offense charge

Referral and intake

A person may receive a referral from the district attorney, a probation officer or law enforcement. If the district attorney determines that someone is a candidate, then he or she may apply to enter the program. A treatment provider will do an assessment to determine whether the person meets treatment criteria.

Phases

During the early phases of the program, the participant will attend court weekly, attend treatment, attend support groups and submit to random drug testing at least twice per week. He or she must pay program fees and maintain or search for employment. In the final stage, participants must complete a community service project. Although the program has a specific set-up, the treatment and recovery plan for each participant is tailored to meet his or her needs.

Outcomes

According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, people who complete drug courtprograms report lower drug use rates, decreased likelihood of testing positive for drugs, a decrease in criminal activity and fewer rearrests.