Welcome to FindLaw's Cases & Codes, a free source of state and federal court opinions, state laws, and the United States Code. For more information about the legal concepts addressed by these cases and statutes, visit FindLaw's Learn About the Law.
(a) Each patient in a facility shall have the right to communicate freely and privately with persons outside the facility and to receive visitors inside the facility.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in this Code section, each patient shall be allowed to receive and send sealed, unopened mail; and no patient's incoming or outgoing mail shall be opened, delayed, held, or censored by the facility.
(c) If there are reasonable grounds to believe that incoming mail contains items or substances which may be dangerous to the patient or others, the chief medical officer may direct reasonable examination of such mail and, after examination, may regulate the disposition of such items or substances found therein. All writings must be presented to the patient within 24 hours of inspection.
(d) The chief medical officer may apply to the court for a temporary order to restrict outgoing mail. If the court determines that probable cause exists that such mail is dangerous to the patient or others, the court may order such mail temporarily restricted, provided that a full and fair hearing shall be held within five days after the issuance of such temporary order to determine whether or not an order of restriction for an extended time shall issue. In no event shall mail be restricted pursuant to such temporary order for more than five days after the date of the temporary order. A full and fair hearing shall be held after the issuance of the temporary order. If, at such hearing, the patient's outgoing mail is determined to be dangerous to the patient or others, the court may order such mail restricted for an extended period not to exceed 30 days. Restrictions for extended periods may be renewed for additional periods not to exceed 30 days each, provided that no such restriction shall be renewed except upon a renewed finding at another full and fair hearing for each such renewal that such mail is dangerous to the patient or others.
(e) If an injunction against the sending of mail by a patient is issued by a court, the chief medical officer shall restrict outgoing mail as provided by the order of the court.
(f) No restriction of either incoming or outgoing mail under subsection (c) or (d) of this Code section shall exceed a period of five days, notwithstanding the authority to restrict such mail for longer periods, provided that such restrictions may be continued as necessary for periods not to exceed five days each upon determination by the chief medical officer, prior to each continuation, that such mail continues to be dangerous to the patient or others; provided, further, that, in the case of outgoing mail, such continuation periods in the aggregate shall not exceed the restriction period authorized in the court order.
(g) Correspondence of the patient with his attorney shall not be restricted in any manner under this Code section. Correspondence of the patient with public officials shall not be restricted in any manner under subsection (c) of this Code section.
(h) Each time a patient's incoming mail is ordered examined by the chief medical officer and each time a patient's outgoing mail is ordered examined by a temporary court order, written notice of such order and notice of a right to a full and fair hearing within five days after such temporary court order shall be served on the patient and his representatives as provided in Code Section 37-3-147. A voluntary patient may waive in writing such notice to his representatives.
(i) The circumstances surrounding the examination of any mail under subsection (c), (d), (e), or (f) of this Code section shall be recorded on the patient's clinical record.
(j) The chief medical officer is authorized to establish reasonable regulations governing visitors, visiting hours, and the use of telephones by patients.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Georgia Code Title 37. Mental Health § 37-3-142 - last updated April 14, 2021 | https://codes.findlaw.com/ga/title-37-mental-health/ga-code-sect-37-3-142/
FindLaw Codes may not reflect the most recent version of the law in your jurisdiction. Please verify the status of the code you are researching with the state legislature or via Westlaw before relying on it for your legal needs.
Was this helpful?