About the MMHC

History of the Misdemeanor Mental Health Court

The DeKalb Misdemeanor Mental Health Court (MMHC), formerly operational as the Diversion Treatment Court (DTC), was established in May 2001 and is the longest-running mental health court of its kind in Georgia. The development of DTC, a diversion accountability court, was inspired by the knowledge that approximately 18-20% of the jail population suffers from a serious mental illness. To date, more than 1500 participants have been referred to DTC. The DTC operated under the direction of the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County and was inspired through a collaborative partnership effort. In early 1999, retired Chief Magistrate Winston P. Bethel; a National Alliance on Mental Illness advocate, Flo Giltman; Attorney Jim Sanders; and Psychiatrist, Emile Risby, a group of four, met to initiate, through a conjoined effort to decriminalize incarcerated defendants with serious mental illness. The DTC, with no funding, began in 2001 with a strong commitment from partners possessing the collective vision and need to decriminalize the mentally ill and to move defendants from jail into treatment.

In 2017, the DTC became certified by the Georgia Council of Accountability Court Judges (CACJ) as the DeKalb Misdemeanor Mental Health Court (MMHC) and is a state-certified accountability court.

The MMHC is a judicially supervised Accountability Court for individuals arrested and charged with misdemeanor and/or ordinance offenses in DeKalb County, and who also have a verifiable mental health diagnosis. The mission of MMHC is to decriminalize offenders with mental disorders by offering treatment instead of incarceration. A case management and treatment plan will be developed to address individual needs and specify what will be required of the individual participant. The minimum length of the program is 12 months and includes regular court appearances before the judge to monitor progress and compliance. However, if a participant has more than one offense in the MMHC, it could potentially last longer. Upon successful completion of the MMHC, any sentence will be vacated, and charge(s) will be dismissed.

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