By Michael Cuneo
FAYETTE COUNTY — The Fayette County Accountability Courts helps find alternative sentencing for misdemeanor drug and alcohol violators, soon expanding to mental health.
Initiated by State Court Judge Jason Thompson in 2016, the accountability courts offer a DUI/Drug program and a veterans treatment court.
Christa Grayson, who was named director of the program in December of 2021, spoke about the life-changing process for the individuals within the program.
“It’s an amazing experience to witness someone coming in absolutely broken, and you’re the first person they see that has hope in them when they don’t see hope in themselves,” Grayson said.
An Atlanta Native, Grayson was illuminated to the results of a life of drugs at an early age.
“I grew up in a neighborhood where drugs were profound. I saw what it did to family and friends – my own family members – and part of me breaking that generational curse is to be able to help as many families not have to go through what I went through,” she said.
The accountability courts program is no walk-in the park for participants. As part of the agreement, members must maintain a full-time job, consent to drug screening tests daily, participate in counseling and go to group therapy weekly.
“We are an alternative sentencing method for those who have DUI or misdemeanor drug offenses that also have a substance abuse problem or a mental health issue that has contributed to their criminal behavior,” Grayson said.
While participants pay to enter the program, some are more reluctant than others to begin the process of getting sober.
“All I tell them is all I need you to do is show up. The rest of it will come. Show up and do the things.” Grayson said of her approach to program members who may be reluctant to fulfill their responsibilities.
Grayson may be new to Fayette County, but she’s carried out many roles that directly play into her position in the accountability courts.
She served in the Navy in Yokosuka, Japan, aboard USS Kitty Hawk. After leaving the Navy, she pursued several degrees, including a master’s in public safety. She also spent time as a probation officer and is a certified drug and alcohol counselor.
She says that she has always known that she wants to help people and that the accountability courts director was the perfect way to do just that.
“I knew I wanted to be a coordinator. I knew I needed to get all the credentials and training that I had to get to learn as much as I could about accountability courts,” she said.
While not everyone who joins the accountability court graduates from the program, those who do are a constant reminder to Grayson of the significance of the work she does.
“One of the people I used to work with just got married and had a baby. When you witness the first baby born in this family that wasn’t addicted to drugs, that’s amazing,” she said.
Grayson looks forward to growing the program, which includes the potential addition of a mental health branch.
“We’re giving people back their son, daughter, and mother and giving them a brand-new opportunity at life. We’re watching them become the best version of themselves on a daily basis,” she said.