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Sentences changed due to pandemic delays

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a broad affect across Georgia judicial circuits and the Department of Corrections.

The backlog for the Georgia DOC Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program is one example with the extended wait time to enter the program causing prosecutors to reconsider sentences.

Three of those waiting to enter the program were in Jones County Superior Court June 18 as they rolled up on 200 days of the 270 days allotted in their sentences to enter RSAT with significant wait times still pending.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Dawn Baskin told the court that Eugene Huff was 88 th on the list to enter the GDOC inpatient program, and the state had negotiated a new sentence with Huff’s attorney, public defender Tom O’Donnell. The public defender represented all three of the defendants in the sentence modifications.

Huff’s new agreement keeps the 270 days but changes the entry to RSAT to entry into a Transitional Housing for Offender Reentry (THOR) approved inpatient rehab facility for a minimum of six months. The 270 days is calculated from the date of his original plea, Dec. 19, 2019. In that sentence Huff was also required to enter and complete the Christian Family Center Program after his release from RSAT.

Michael Willard Brown was in a similar situation. Baskin said he was currently 89 th of the list to enter RSAT program. His modified sentence revoked 270 days in the Jones County jail suspended upon entry into a THOR-approved inpatient rehab facility for a minimum of six months with the 270 days calculated from his original sentence date of Dec. 12, 2019.

One issue for Brown was that he was approved to enter a rehab program that was just removed from the approved THOR list, and he now has to find another approved program.

Timothy Parsons was the third defendant brought to court for a sentence modification due to the RSAT issue. Baskin said he was 103rd on the waiting list. Parsons had done well at the Jones County LEC and was given the option to complete his time there, but he asked for and was granted more time to consider his options. Parson’s original sentence date was Jan. 30.