AJC Adult Felony Mental Health Court Program
The Augusta Judicial Circuit Mental Health Court (AJCMHC) program provides a treatment program and serves as a meaningful alternative to incarceration for the participant who can function in the community with support. It is the goal of the AJCMHC program to improve the quality of life and reduce recidivism for the participants in this program. Those who gradate will have a solid foundation upon which to build in order to become a productive member of our community. The AJCMHC team concept involves a collaborative effort between the judge(s), district attorneys, defense attorneys, mental health court coordinator, mental health court case manager, mental health court administrative staff, law enforcement, treatment providers, and probation service representatives. All Team members work together to support each participant in addressing and combating the issues that brought them into the criminal justice system. The AJCMHC team meets every week to review the progress of every participant and holds court sessions. The program is a court-imposed condition of probation for defendants before the court who have serious mental illness or co-occurring mental health and alcohol/substance abuse issues.
AJCMHC TEAM ROLES
JUDGE: Honorable James G. Blanchard, Jr. [Superior Court Judge]
The Honorable James G. Blanchard, Jr. [Superior Court Judge] presides over the Augusta Judicial Circuit Mental Health Court program. The Judge Blanchard is aware of the significant impact of mental illness and/or substance abuse has on the court system, the lives of participants and their families, victims of criminal behavior, and the entire community. The judge is committed to the overall function of the AJCMHC program concept and goals and presides as the AJCMHC team leader to encourage participant success. The judge monitors and addresses participant progress and accountability in accordance with program requirements. The judge has many other daily responsibilities, which require judicial attention, therefore direct contact with the judge or his/her office staff is not permitted.
AJCMHC COORDINATOR: Elaina Ashley
Elaina Ashley serves as the coordinator for the program and is the administrator of the Augusta Judicial Circuit Adult Felony Mental Health Court Program. The AJCMHC coordinator facilitates the communication and contact between all members of the AJCMHC team. The coordinator will meet with a participant when necessary involving any aspect of their AJCMHC participation.
ADMINISTRATIVE CASE MANAGER
Administrative staff monitors participant information concerning treatment issues, program issues and program violations. The administrative case manager attends all staff meetings and provides written summaries on participant’s progress at staff meetings by providing the AJCMHC team with updates on any issues that may affect the participants’ progress in the AJCMHC program.
CLINICAL CASE MANAGERS
Clinical case managers provide individual, rehabilitative and case management services to the participant. The clinical case manager provides written summaries on participant’s progress and updates of any issues that may affect the participants’ progress in the AJCMHC program to the program coordinator.
MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM CORE REQUIREMENTS
- New criminal charge(S) may be subject to sanctions and/or termination from the Mental Health Court program.
- MHC participants are required to live in Richmond, Columbia or Burke County throughout involvement in the Mental Health Court program.
- MHC participants are required to obtain permission from the Court prior to leaving the Augusta Judicial Circuit or the State of Georgia for any reason.
- MHC participants are not permitted, under any circumstances to be in possession of a firearm or any other weapon.
Treatment plans will be based on an initial assessment of the individual’s problems and needs. The plan will act as a guide for the participants first 45 days of treatment, during which time a more permanent treatment plan will be developed. This plan will help the participant set goals, select methods for meeting those goals, and develop target dates for achieving those goals. The plan will be kept in the participants treatment file for regular review and necessary updates as progress is made through the program.
Counseling may be comprised of three separate formats; individual, group and educational sessions. As part of your treatment plan, you will be required to participate in all three types of counseling. Together they are designed to develop self-awareness, realize self-worth, and practice self-discipline. The individual and group counseling sessions will include problem identification and alternative solutions. Participant attendance at counseling sessions will be reported to the Judge as part of the participant’s progress report. Attendance in treatment sessions, groups, or appointments are a requirement of the program. During treatment, the participant’s counselor may determine the need for additional counseling. This may focus on areas of family, marital or mental health counseling.