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Report: Completing Newton accountability court program gives offender better chance of not repeating crime
Jillian Hall
From left, Deputy Chief Assistant DA Jillian Hall and Chief Assistant DA Amber Dally have worked with both accountability courts for years. (Special| Newton County District Attorney)

COVINGTON, Ga. — A report on accountability courts in Newton County showed those who complete the programs are much more likely not to commit further crimes than those who do not complete them, the district attorney said.

The Georgia Council of Accountability Court Judges’ Recidivism Analysis Report issued earlier this year for courts statewide included information for the five-year period of 2016-2021.

It included data on the Alcovy Judicial Circuit’s Newton County Felony Drug Court — which also serves Walton County residents — as well as the Newton County Resource Court and Walton County Resource Court.

The report shows “that individuals that successfully complete these programs are very likely to not commit further crimes, but instead be great members of our community and great family members,” said District Attorney Randy McGinley.

McGinley said the average participant in an accountability court program “has a criminal history of multiple arrests including multiple arrests for violations of probation.”

“Those that complete our Drug or Resource Court programs are extremely less likely to be rearrested for a new offense in the 24 and 36 months that follow their graduation than those that are terminated from the program,” McGinley said. 

He said the report showed only 8% of Drug Court, 5% of Walton County Resource Court and no Newton County Resource Court graduates had new arrests within 24 months of their completion dates. 

“Compare that to 53%, 50%, and 55% respectively for those Courts for individuals that were terminated from the program,” McGinley said.

The Drug Court “is designed to coordinate substance abuse intervention with judicial support through an immediate sanctions and incentives process,” the DA said.

Its primary goal is “to reduce recidivism through substance abuse intervention with immediate judicial review that supports addressing the offender’s substance abuse problem”

Resource Court is designed to “address the needs of individuals diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness” who have committed criminal acts, he said.

It provides treatment to court participants in conjunction with community supervision by the Sheriff’s Office and probation officers and drug testing “to address the underlying causes of criminal activity and recidivism,” McGinley said.

He said he wanted “to highlight the hard work and dedication of the prosecutors that have been a part of these courts” including Chief Assistant District Attorney Amber Dally and Deputy Chief Assistant Jillian Hall.

Dally has been involved in the operation of the Drug Court program for years, while Hall has handled Resource Court in both counties— Newton and Walton — within the Alcovy Judicial Circuit, McGinley said. 

“They both have a large caseload of other cases, including murders and other serious felonies, but they also spend countless hours every week working with these accountability courts,” he said.