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Committed participants, staff lauded in accountability court programs
Court offers people avenue to return to workforce
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Angel Mays, a Hall County Family Treatment Court graduate, speaks to attendees of a WomenSource Power Lunch in Gainesville, on Oct. 26, 2017. The luncheon featured panelists who are experts in accountability courts and individuals they have helped. - photo by David Barnes

The success stories and progress of those entering Family Treatment Court are what keep Juvenile Court Judge Alison Toller going.

“It’s what keeps me invested, and it works,” she said.

Toller, Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin and others discussed the advancement of Hall County’s accountability courts Thursday at the Brenau Downtown Center. The program was part of the WomenSource Power Lunch.

Hall County Treatment Services now also includes Drug Court, Felony Probation Drug Court, DUI Court, Mental Health Court, Parental Accountability Court and Veterans Court.

Family Treatment Court started in 2006 for parents often dealing with substance-use disorders.

“The biggest reason things work is because the parents are committed and also because we have an amazing staff. I think at every single graduation they call (Family Treatment Court coordinator Marisa Sullens) some form of ‘angel,’ ‘blessing in disguise,’ whatever it is,” Toller said.

Family Treatment Court graduate Angel Mays shared her story with the audience, telling of her journey to sobriety.

“I didn’t have a problem in my head,” she said.

She would eventually be mandated to a rehab program, which in turn led her to Family Treatment Court. The program requires frequent drug screenings, intensive substance abuse treatment and life skills training, where Mays said she was able to open up.

“I was holding back so much anger,” Mays said. “I had to break the cycle.”

Drug Court coordinator Heather Herrington said the program has been working to provide more trauma counseling, as issues left unaddressed can often lead to substance abuse.

In addition to saving lives, the accountability courts are working to return people to the workforce and contribute to the community, said Treatment Services Director Debbie Mott.

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