Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 4, 2018

Parental Accountability Court to launch in Walker Co.

Superior Court Judge Kristina Cook Graham has secured funding through the Georgia Department of Human Services to create the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit’s first Parental Accountability Court.

The PAC is designed to provide chronic nonpayers of child support access to community resources as an alternative to incarceration. Community resources include volunteer work opportunities, literacy training, job assistance and placement, mental health services, clinical assessments, substance abuse treatment, coaching and mentoring, as well as additional services specific to each community.

Since 2012, PACs in Georgia have assisted 4,758 noncustodial parents who were at risk of incarceration avoid jail time and provide support to 7,513 children. PAC participants have paid $5.3 million in support, which in turn has saved $10 million in incarceration costs. Nearly 90 percent of noncustodial parents are fathers.

Judge Brian House will preside over the PAC in Walker County. Judge Graham and Judge House will preside in the other three counties as those programs commence.

Jennifer Turley has been hired to serve as PAC coordinator for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Georgia Southern College in 2003. Turley then worked as an enforcement agent with the Department of Child Support Services in the circuit from 2004 until beginning her new position.

Judge Graham says the PAC program is a good example of how the court system is evolving to meet the individual needs of the families entering it.

“I’m grateful to Commissioner Whitfield for providing us space to begin the program in Walker County and look forward to growing the effort into Catoosa, Chattooga and Dade Counties in the coming months,” she says.

Judge Graham says the 18-month program will launch on Friday, May 11 with a reception from 1-3 p.m. in the Walker County Courthouse.

“In the past, many non-custodial parents would come through the court system, only to find themselves going to jail for non-payment of child support. This action was a poor use of valuable taxpayer dollars, left children without a parent and provided no support to the non-custodial parent to change the trajectory of his or her future once released.

“The PAC program changes all of this, and I’m pleased to bring it to the Lookout Mountain Judicial District.”

Information: www.dcss.dhs.ga.gov, 844 694-2347, Jennifer.Turley@dhs.ga.gov

Source: Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit