Mental Health Court
Another community interest of mine is finding paths to direct those suffering with mental illness to treatment rather than incarceration. From 2010-2016 I was one of two Municipal Court judges who presided over a Mental Health Court docket. The Mental Health Court treatment team is a collaboration of mental health service providers, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, and the judge. The team works with the defendant to create individualized, intensive supervision probation, where the defendant is connected to all the treatment services that they need. The goal is to offer treatment instead of incarceration, to break the cycle of reoffending, and to offer the defendant the opportunity to improve mental health. The service works to help people obtain stable housing, get connected to medication, if needed, to group and individual treatment, education, and employment. Mental Health Court, like all specialty dockets, is a win-win program. The defendant feels better, and the community is happy with reduced crime. Watching the weekly progress of defendants in this docket has had a tremendous impact on me also, as I gain insight into the nature of criminality, and the many positive outcomes to this approach.