According to State Court Judge Eddie Barker, the grant period runs from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014.
In the award letter, Gov. Nathan Deal wrote, “Expanding and strengthening accountability courts in Georgia is not only one of my top initiatives as governor, but also a very strong personal interest. I have seen firsthand the success stories that come out of courtrooms like yours.”
The grant, made under the Accountability Courts program in Georgia, is to provide funding to local courts and judicial circuits to establish speciality courts to deal with drug charges or mental health issues.
The county’s DUI Court, established by Barker, kicked off in April with Richard Bowen, the county’s former chief parole officer, as its director.
Barker told the commissioners during the June 3 work session that there are already nine repeat offenders in the program currently in counseling, with another 12 to 14 in the process of going into the program.
He said he expects 20 to 25 people to participate in the program by mid-July.
Most of the director’s salary, drug testing and surveillance will be paid from the state DUI Court grant, Barker told the commissioners.
“The program is off and running,” said Barker. “We’ve gotten off to a good start.”
Commission Chairman Tom Worthan explained that the DUI grant is “basic startup money” but added that the program should be revenue producing from fees paid by participants who are in the program.
When questioned by District 2 Commissioner Kelly Robinson, Barker said there would be savings to the county.
The DUI Court is held on the first and third Thursday each month at 4 p.m. in state court. Barker said he is encouraged by the current interest in the program.
“We hope to have good success stories in the next 12 to 14 months.” said the judge.