An accountability court for the families of juveniles addicted to drugs will soon be up and running in Muscogee County.
Juvenile Drug Court Judge Warner Kennon said the court recently received a $220,000 grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Maryland-based organization that aims to improve the lives of American children.
“Often one or both parents are on some sort of illegal substance,” Kennon said of the cases he sees every day. “ Through family court, I can get them help and try to keep the children at home while the parents cooperate and get help if necessary.”
Accountability courts exist throughout the state to provide effective alternatives to sentencing for nonviolent offenders struggling with substance abuse, mental illness and other issues. The Family Drug Court will be the fifth in Muscogee County. Other accountability courts in the area include the Juvenile Drug Court, Adult Drug Court, Mental Health Court and the Veterans Court.
Chief Judge Gil McBride said the circuit also plans to establish an accountability court for parents not paying child support.
Kennon said he will be the presiding judge at the Family Drug Court, and hours are yet to be determined. He said the program will help reduce the need for foster beds by finding alternatives to keep children in their homes. Parents will be held accountable.
“The Juvenile Drug Court standards are a minimum of every two weeks, but the family accountability court is every week,” he said. “And so they have to come in front of me every week and say they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing or have instant consequences.”