Guam judicial officials observe Albany court - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Guam judicial officials observe Albany court

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Judicial officials from Guam came to Albany today to learn how our courts handle cases with people suffering from mental disorders or drug addiction.

Four officials from the Judiciary of Guam sat in on Judge Stephen Goss' court Monday. Goss is a member of the judge leadership board for the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Program, and Dougherty County is one of five national teaching sights. The program seeks to get mental or substance abuse help for plantiffs, rather than just sentencing them to jail.

The Guam officials say their nation has similiar problems.

Superior Court of Guam Judge Steven Unpingco said  "We chose Dougherty County because of the demographics, a small community. And at times the limitation of treatment providers."

Dougherty County Superior Court Judge Stephen Goss said "I hiope that we can share with them some information so they don't have to replicate trial and error. That's probably the biggest benefit to new courts, to be able to come to more established programs."

Goss has been working on substance abuse and mental health issues in the court since 2002.  The aim is to lower the jail population and repeat offenders, by getting repeat offenders mental help or substance abuse counseling rather than jail time. The Guam officials have been to Washington D.C., and now will go to Hawaii as they continue to research American courts.

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