The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has announced the launch of the ‘ATL Court,’ a new pretrial diversion court that provides an alternative to incarceration for federal pretrial defendants. ATL stands for Accountability, Treatment, and Leadership.
The Court will offer selected nonviolent offenders individualized programs that address the root cause of their criminal conduct, which may include substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, employment services, and educational programs. Successful completion may result in dismissal of the charges or sentencing that does not include a term of imprisonment, even if the offense is deemed a felony.
The ATL Court is a collaborative effort between the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Probation Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Defender Program. It is modeled after pretrial diversion courts in similar federal districts that have demonstrated resounding success, including the SOAR program in the Northern District of Illinois and the CASA program in the Central District of California.
It’s exciting to see that the value of this approach is recognized at a federal level. Individuals with mental health problems will now have the opportunity to receive genuine help for their underlying issues and avoid the life-changing consequences of incarceration.