CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) – Chatham County Superior Court Judge Lisa Colbert wants to help the homeless population who are facing challenges with getting their court cases resolved, so she and other individuals want to bring homeless courts to the area.
Judge Colbert tells News 3, she is familiar with the challenges people experiencing homelessness face in Chatham County. For her, the homeless court was the next best step in fixing recurring problems.
Homeless court forms relations specifically with the homeless population, helping those facing criminal charges. It is usually held in a different setting, such as a homeless shelter or a location outside of the traditional courthouse.
“The premise is that court would be in a setting that’s more user-friendly to homeless individuals who often travel with their stuff or may not have clothes that would be considered court appropriate,” Judge Colbert said.
She goes on to say it will also speed up the court process to avoid warrants for individuals who have no address.
“Once they are released from our jail, we have difficulty getting them back to court,” Judge Colbert continued. “Because we can’t give notice to them. Usually, there would be like a failure to appear warrant after multiple attempts, and we just start that cycle over again.”
Furthermore, it does not only help people during the court process but also after the process is over.
“There would be partnerships between the attorneys and the service providers so that connections can be made sooner for a person who may need support to help deal with not just the homelessness but some of the underlying issues that may be driving the criminal charges,” Judge Colbert explained.
She continues to tell us that this is still in its planning phase and it requires all hands-on deck.
“We need a location, so there’s some work to be done,” said Judge Colbert. “And just work out how this process will flow and which judges are going to sit. We also need the clerk’s office, the court reporter and the sheriff’s department. So, quite a few people to speak to.”
Judge Colbert told us this court would only apply to people who are charged with non-violent felonies.
Even though this is still in its planning phase, she is hoping the court will be up and running within the next six months to a year.