In the state of Georgia, mental health courts are currently established across 8 counties: Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Cobb, DeKalb, Dougherty, Fulton, Hall, and Muscogee. The newest is in Cobb County, under the leadership of Superior Court Judge Mary Staley. Cobb Superior Court administrator Tom Charron is quoted as saying “The goal of a mental health court is to keep non-violent offenders who have committed a felony, and who have a mental illness like bipolar disorder, out of jail and in a treatment program.” In order to be considered to participate in the mental health court system, one must have an attorney referral, be a resident of the county, be interviewed by county and court staff, and not have committed a violent act. This 2-year program provides treatment options like psychopharmacology and counseling. Treatment plans are established with guidance from the Cobb County Community Services Board, which is the organization that advises felons in the regular state-run prison system. Plans are established on a case-by-case basis.
Funding for courts differs in each occasion. For example, the DeKalb Diversion Treatment Court (established in 2001), received a $1M dollar grant over 3 years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Whereas Cobb County works directly with the existing Community Services Board to distribute funds for mentally ill patients between the regular court system and the Mental Health court, in addition to other county and federal funding.
So far, these types of courts have seen success. For example, DeKalb county reported a 71% retention rate and 8% recidivism rate for those who have gone through the Mental Health Court program.