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Forsyth CountyMental Health- Criminal Justice Task Force

Formation of Task Force: On August 18, 2010, Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley, Superior Court of Forsyth County issued an administrative order forming a Mental Health-Criminal Justice Task Force. The Task Force Steering Committee, which included Chief Judge Bagley, Jennifer Johnston (Drug Court Coordinator), Jennifer O’Kelley (DUI Court Coordinator), Flo Giltman (NAMI) and Faye Taylor (NAMI), met several times prior to the first Task Force meeting on Oct, 13, 2011, at the Forsyth courthouse. Additional meetings were Feb. 2, May 11, Aug. 4, 2011, and Feb. 24, 2012. The next meeting will be fall 2012. Members (listed below) will be working together on issues and concerns discussed in the meetings.  

Mission:

The mission of the Forsyth County Mental Health-Criminal Justice Task Force is to promote ongoing communication between the systems of mental health and criminal justice in order to guide our community (Forsyth  County) to design, implement and operate integrated systems of care for persons with significant mental disabilities with or without chemical dependency.

 

Guiding Principles: 

Do not oversimplify the enormity of these issues and its costs to everyone in our society. These problems are very complex, transversing many traditional formal system structures. There exists rigid turf boundaries; language, philosophical and cultural differences; stigma; diverse opinions on need for punishment; political considerations and many many other variables.

Listen! Listen! Listen! to all perspectives and always show courtesy and respect for opinions, even if they are radically different than your own.

Do not focus on fixing problems, rather focus on beginning the process of reversing the trend away from the criminalization of ill persons.

Do not make further demands on anyone or any system. Offer to help, listen, share, educate with the ultimate purpose of planning for mutually beneficial changes for all systems (Win-Win situation).

Make a diligent effort not to point blame for existing conditions on any source. Rather focus on working collaboratively towards constructive changes and reform.

When possible, shift focus away from discussion of inadequate funding to the current ineffective, wasteful use of existing financial resources and lack of integration of mental health and criminal justice programs.

Both community safety and individual rights to treatment can be addressed when the pieces of the two systems are properly coordinated and funded.

The jail and the mental health problems of its detainees must be seen as a community problem.

 

Members:

  1. Judge Jeffery S. Bagley, Task Force Chairman, Chief Judge of Forsyth County Superior Court
  2. Leslie Abernathy – Maddox, Forsyth County Mental Health Court Judge
  3. Susan Atkins, Director, Student Support Services, Forsyth County Schools
  4. Judge Walker H. Bramblett, Forsyth County Chief Magistrate
  5. Rebecca Capes, Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  6. Cathy Ganter, Director, West Region, Avita Community Partners
  7. Derrick Gilbert, Chief Probation Officer, Cumming Forsyth Probation Office
  8. Flo Giltman, Task Force Project Coordinator, NAMI Forsyth Dawson Lumpkin
  9. Donna GoPaul, Forsyth County Solicitor General
  10. Major Matt Hester,  Sheriff’s Services Division
  11. Judge Russell J. Jackson, Chief Judge, Forsyth County Juvenile Court
  12. Lynn Jackson, Administrator, Northside Hospital Forsyth, Cumming, Georgia
  13. Ellyn Jaeger, Director of Public Policy & Advocacy, Mental Health America of Georgia, Atlanta, GA
  14. Jennifer R. Johnston, Forsyth County Drug Court Coordinator
  15. Judge Lynwood D. Jordan Jr., Forsyth County Probate Court Judge
  16. Joe LaBranche, Veterans of Foreign War
  17. Todd Levent, Forsyth County Commissoner District 3
  18. Judge Russell McClelland, Forsyth County State Court Judge
  19. Marsha Mullen, Assistant District Attorney, Forsyth County Juvenile Court
  20. Jennifer O’Kelley, Forsyth County DUI Court Coordinator
  21. Christa O’Neal, Director of Operations, Georgia Probations Management
  22. Penny Penn, Forsyth County District Attorney
  23. Anne B. Preston, Therapist, Forsyth County Juvenile Court
  24. Adam Raulerson, Director, Laurelwood Hospital
  25. Casey Tatum, Chief of Police, Cumming Police Dept.
  26. Robert J. Tavenier, Director, Forsyth County Pre-Trial Services

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