County Looking Into Drug Court/Mental Health Court Concepts

From Potter County Today

crimjusticePotter County officials are investigating two alternatives – drug courts and mental health courts – as possible options to improve the criminal justice system while easing overcrowding at the county jail and reducing costs. As complex as each option is, officials caution, it will be some time before any changes are made. Judge Stephen Minor, District Attorney Andy Watson, Human Services Administrator Jim Kockler, Public Defender Brent Petrosky and Chief Probation Officer John Moshier are among county officials who will be looking into some of the alternatives.

Because a large proportion of criminal defendants coming before the court are suffering from mental health issues, substance abuse histories, or both, there’s a growing awareness that punishment that failure to address those factors frequently results in costly recidivism.

Drug Courts handle the cases of nonviolent, substance-abusing offenders. They operate under a specialized model in which the judiciary, prosecution, defense, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social service and treatment communities work together. The model combines intensive judicial supervision, mandatory drug testing, escalating sanctions and treatment to help substance-abusing offenders break the cycle of addiction and the crime that accompanies it. There are more than 2,400 drug courts established in all 50 states. The average recidivism rate for those who complete drug court is about 20 percent, in contrast to 48 percent for those who do not. Recent studies have revealed a cost savings ranging from nearly $3,000 to more than $12,000 per client.

Mental Health Courts link non-violent offenders who would ordinarily be prison-bound to long-term, community-based treatment. They rely on mental health assessments, individualized treatment plans, and ongoing judicial monitoring to address the underlying problems that contribute to criminal behavior. For those who adhere to their treatment plan for the agreed-upon time, usually between six months and two years, their cases are either dismissed or the sentence is greatly reduced. If the defendant does not comply, the case returns to the original criminal calendar. Because mental health courts are a relatively new phenomenon, there is little in the way of outcome data to determine their impact.

Read original


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

Leave a Comment