The Paulding County Drug Court Program began in 2016 and is led by Superior Court Judge Dean Bucci. Those who enter the Program are facing criminal charges or probation revocations, and they usually enter directly from jail. The Drug Court Team evaluates candidates based upon their criminal and addiction history.
If admitted, a participant faces an immediate lifestyle change. Participants must attend group treatment Monday through Thursday, monthly individual and family treatment sessions, 12-Step classes, and more. They must keep a curfew, prepare for their GED if they do not have a diploma, pay a supervision fee, and attend court every Friday. The minimum length of the Program is eighteen months, but it usually takes at least two years to complete. Graduation is never guaranteed. Participants are required to earn the right to advance through the five phases of the program. Those who are expelled from the program typically have their probation revoked and face a likely prison sentence.
The Program is funded by a State grant which requires a local ten-percent match. The match is paid from the County DATE (Drug Abuse Treatment and Education) fund. Drug Court programs are credited with reducing recidivism.
Under the direction of Paulding County's Superior Court Judge, T. David Lyles, the county's Mental Health Court began in 2019.
The Paulding County Mental Health Court is an 18-month program that offers a less costly, more effective alternative to incarceration. It improves the response to individuals with mental illnesses who have come in contact with the criminal justice system. Participants are provided intensive outpatient mental health and substance abuse counseling, medical follow-up, frequent random drug and alcohol testing, random home visits, and strict curfew monitoring.
The program provides participants with assistance in obtaining employment, housing, and furthering their education. Judge Lyles conducts frequent compliance hearings to review their progress and incentives are given to those who are meeting the program's expectations.