ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation that will create the state's first mental health court system, saying he is disturbed by the rate of repeat offenders and people crowding jails who suffer from addiction, developmental disabilities and mental illness.
During his inaugural address, Deal pledged to address overcrowding in the state's prison system and pointed to treating underlying problems like mental illness as part of the solution.
Signed at the former state Capitol in Milledgeville, Senate Bill 39 establishes a mental health court division within Georgia's court system for defendants suffering from mental illness, developmental disability or substance abuse. Defendants charged with murder, rape, aggravated sodomy, armed robbery, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated child molestation or child molestation would not be eligible to participate.