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What is a Mental Health Court?

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A recent media release from the Washington County Health and Human Services Department describes their Mental Health Court:

Mental Health Court: Moving From Jail and Hospital to Stability in the Community

Washington County’s Department of Health and Human Services Mental Health Division is partnering with other County agencies to help people with severe and persistent mental illness and criminal justice involvement live in the community safely. This is intended to help people avoid both hospitalization and going to jail as the result of their mental illness….

The program, called Mental Health Court, consists of a team representing the agencies that most often work with this population: a judge, the Hon. Marco Hernandez of Washington County Circuit Court, two staff from the County Probation Services, an assistant district attorney, a public defender, a sheriff’s deputy, a program manager from a contracted non-profit mental health services agency and Kristin Burke, Adult Mental Health Senior Program Coordinator from the Behavioral Health Division of HHS.

The clients of Mental Health Court have a serious mental illness and, often, a substance abuse problem. They have been found guilty of breaking the law and have probation time to serve. Only those clients who are considered non-violent offenders are eligible for the program…. ” (Link to full media release.)

More: The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) describes different types of mental health court programs.

More: See also the Wikipedia entry on Mental Health Courts.