Accountability Courts offer a path to a better life

Published 9:55 am Friday, November 3, 2023

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Troup County Accountability Court held a graduation ceremony on Wednesday for the fall Class of 2023. More than 30 graduated from the various accountability programs during a ceremony at the William Griggs Center celebrating their victory over substance abuse and mental health problems.

Court Services in Troup County provides access to Accountability Courts, which offer the programs as interventions for individuals who experience issues seeking treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health problems. The goals of the programs are to help reduce crime, drug and alcohol addiction, reduce recidivism and promote mental health.

Throughout the state, Georgia’s Accountability Courts offer interventions for individuals who experience issues seeking treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health problems.

Troup County’s programs include Felony Adult Drug Court, DUI/Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Parental Accountability Court and Family Treatment Court.

The programs offer alternatives to traditional court adjudication by allowing participants to undergo treatment and be held accountable for their actions by meeting regularly with counselors and local judges who help run the programs.

Judge Michael Key oversees Felony Drug Court, Judge Nina Markette Baker oversees Mental Health Court and Judge Wesley Leonard oversees DUI/Drug Court.

A total of 31 graduated from the program on Wednesday including seven from Felony Drug Court, six from Family Treatment Court, nine from Mental Health Court and nine from DUI/Drug Court.

One of the success stories from this year’s class is Cantha Penn, who graduated from Mental Health Court.

“Cantha came through the program from the get-go with just such an amazing attitude and positive spirit about it,” Judge Baker said. “She was the first to lend a helping hand and to offer ideas and suggestions for folks and helped a lot of people.”

Not only was Penn working through her own struggles with mental health and alcohol abuse, she took the time to help others.

“Cantha not only helped herself, but she helped others which is really, really hard to do when you’re going through this. I was so impressed,” she said.

Penn said she decided to quit drinking nearly four years ago and thanked everyone for their support that led to her graduation from the program. She thanked the accountability court leaders and other participants for always cheering her on and for being at every finish line for every accomplishment, whether big or small, that she made on her recovery journey.

When she entered mental health court, she was already in alcohol abuse recovery for three years.

“When I got there, what it taught me was that recovery isn’t just about quitting a substance, but also your mental health, which plays a big role. When I went into Pathways, it just opened up so many doors for me to get right with my mental health — my anxiety and depression,” she said.

Cantha said she would have never even known about her mental health issues of she had not gone to Pathways, which first diagnosed her. She said she believes she would have relapsed if not for their help.

“Whenever I get triggered, I have those coping skills to look and fall back on the counseling, the one-on-one sessions and stuff like that with my counselor,” Penn said.

She said in March 2024 she will be four years free of alcohol.

Penn said the program has also helped her be accountable as far as keeping a job, being more responsible and keeping her promises.

“Before coming here, I made promises to people that I often broke, Penn said. “I try harder to keep my promises now.”

My bank account looks a lot better too, she joked.