The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

14 October 2002

One step beyond drug court

The county's so-called Drug Court, which provides an alternate jurisdiction for nonviolent drug offenses — individuals who plead guilty to same are put on treatment programs and report to the Drug Court rather than to the normal (and overcrowded) criminal-justice system — is apparently successful enough to justify a spinoff. The new Mental Health Court will open on the first of November and will provide supervision for offenders who are diagnosed with a recognizable mental illness. Given the sheer number of people who might qualify — county officials estimate that 20 percent of current jail inmates are "severely" mental ill — this court could further reduce the backlog at Criminal Court.

The state authorized this court during the past legislative session, but provided no funding for it, so the county is scrambling for money to operate the court and has asked for $500,000 next fiscal year. Sounds like a bargain to me, if it works.

Posted at 7:20 AM to Soonerland