Mental Health and Mental Health Courts

“Mental health court programs are expanding around the country as courts implement improved methods to provide justice to people with unique circumstances. Earlier this month, the chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, Daniel T. Eismann, spoke in Franklin County about the importance of “problem-solving courts,” as he referred to them”

The above is an excerpt from a news report where  one US state is weighing in on the reasons why it might be a good thing to separate the mentally ill criminals from those who commit crimes because they believe that is the best way to get through this world.  It makes sense to believe that those who commit crimes because of illness be given treatment.

At least it is a new approach to dealing with crime and with mental illness. Both justice departments in state, local and national courts stand to gain from such intervention. From the standpoint of judicial incarceration, It could relieve the overcrowding, and from a mental illness view, it has possibilities for wholeness indeed. Now the victims of their own illnesses will not be left without hope

Words are cheap but the real test of any new methods of treatment is in its eventual outcome. Since this is new, at this point  in time, there are few examples to hold up as evidence, but in ten years or so, the situation could be quite different.

Of course there is a possibility that many will at least try to use this to get lesser sentences, but an astute court judge will be able to stop this abuse of the justice system. The article that spawned this article “Mental Health Court another option for justice” explains in detail what to watch for and how to weed out those who are insincere in their claims.

Matthew K. Jenson, the Herald Journal author who brought the news to us, explains that so far only four have graduated from the District Mental Health Court in Utah.

“Mental health court programs are expanding around the country as courts implement improved methods to provide justice to people with unique circumstances. . . ”  A conference is being planned in Utah for the summer of 2011. Who head the Mental Health Courts Program? The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) along with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration makes the plans and looks over this area of the courts as it deals with crime and its interaction with mental health. At present, there are 150 and hopefully more will follow. As with anything new, time makes all the difference.

The reasoning behind this newer thinking on how to deal with both crime and the ill who commit crimes, is to review and to supervise and to separate those with “mental retardation, or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders who are charged with misdemeanors and/or nonviolent offenses.”And to coordinate services: Training for workers, facilities that can work with these offenders, and to learn as they go forward with this newer method of dealing with an errant society. There is more information on this subject of justice from BJA. Listed are the courts and the states and other articles and reports dealing with the problems of justice and mental illness.