Steve Ellis, Sandy Springs’ new metropolis solicitor, plans to utterly revamp its Municipal Courtroom system, and the restructured program may start this summer season.
As an alternative of sending all people with citations via one courtroom system, it’ll cut up them up into completely different courts for these with drug and alcohol points, psychological well being issues and for veterans solely.
A part of that metamorphosis, Metropolis Legal professional Dan Lee mentioned, contains packages to maintain minor offenders out of jail, a transfer that may profit each Sandy Springs and the people it arrests.
“We discovered that in Sandy Springs we spent some huge cash placing individuals in jail and retaining them in jail, and the medical prices we incur are for individuals who don’t belong in jail if this program existed (are excessive),” Lee mentioned. “… So the success fee of each particular person is essential however as a metropolis we need to do the proper factor and in addition lower your expenses.”
Ellis and Lee introduced their plans in the course of the Sandy Springs Metropolis Council’s Might 4 work session at Metropolis Springs. Ellis, who changed Leslie Donaho, beforehand served as chief deputy solicitor for Cobb County, the place he spent 10 years. He operated among the various courts in Cobb County, together with Drug Courtroom, Psychological Well being Courtroom and Veterans Courtroom. Ellis additionally established Cobb’s DUI Courtroom.
Sandy Springs’ Municipal Courtroom system will shift to an identical format, with the accountability courtroom therapy crew on the high of the organizational chart, in keeping with his presentation doc. To its left is the overall diversion program, which is for first-time offenders. DUI Courtroom will probably be on the proper facet, and on the backside are the three diversion tracks: psychological/behavioral well being, alcohol and drug dependancy and veterans.
The brand new courtroom system will probably be a hybrid one with each diversion and accountability packages. Diversion is a pre-plea technique provided solely by the prosecutor’s workplace during which a defendant completes particular phrases and circumstances, often six to 24 months, in alternate for having his or her case dismissed.
Accountability is a post-plea program the place a defendant enters a responsible plea earlier than a decide and undergoes a sentence that would final 12 to 36 months. If this system is efficiently accomplished, the conviction will probably be reversed partly or wholly and the case will probably be dismissed, with the responsible plea vacated.
“We’re going to concentrate on instances the place there’s drug, psychological sickness or veterans points,” Ellis mentioned. “We’ll even have a DUI Courtroom like we had in Cobb. The DUI Courtroom will probably be a post-plea program, not pre-plea. … This will probably be a extremely individualized method, not one measurement suits all.”
One factor that may stay unchanged is the Municipal Courtroom won’t see any critical crime offenders comparable to people accused of armed theft or homicide.
The town’s courts will cost charges to defendants to assist pay for its companies, comparable to a therapy supplier. Ellis mentioned town expects to have 35 to 40 people for what he calls the pilot program, which might be the primary group of defendants to undergo the completely different courtroom techniques and plans to start out quick.
“Accountability courtroom is eighteen months from begin to end, however we’re going to do that in lower than six months,” he mentioned.
The town’s accountability courtroom therapy crew is assembly April via June, and it’ll open the appliance course of for defendants from mid-June via August. The primary candidates re anticipated to be accepted into this system in August and September.
“After they graduate in 12 months, 24 months, they’ve been restored, they usually probably gained’t reoffend,” Ellis mentioned.
District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio requested him what his success fee prior to now was for his packages in Cobb. Ellis mentioned the DUI Courtroom’s success fee throughout its first 10 years (2008-18) was 75 to 80%, and the Psychological Well being Courtroom’s was 66%.
“I’m going to shoot for 100,” he mentioned of all of the courtroom’s packages. “I do know I’m not going to get there. However realistically, we must always shoot for 66 to 85%.
Ellis mentioned all courtroom program individuals will probably be topic to alcohol and drug screening. Any individuals who can’t afford to pay the courtroom charges, that are $700 upfront and $60 a month can have them waived or transformed into neighborhood service.