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Friday, August 12, 2016

Ind. Courts - "Mental Health Courts Aim To Connect Instead Of Criminalize"

Jill Sheridan of WFYI has a long story today - some quotes from the long, informative story:

INDIANAPOLIS - Over 5,000 people incarcerated in Indiana are also navigating mental health issues - this population is at high risk for recidivism. A growing number of Indiana counties are working to stop this cycle through alternative court programs. One alternative court in Marion County hopes to anchor itself permanently in the criminal justice system. * * *

The Marion County Jail in Indianapolis is at capacity. And over a third of the inmates, close to 900 people there, are struggling with addiction, schizophrenia, depression or some other mental health issue.

Colonel Louis Dezelan with the Marion County Sherriff’s office says the jail spends nearly $8 million a year treating these people.

"The truth is that the Sherriff is now the biggest mental health caretaker in the state of Indiana," commented Dezelan, "and we think that’s wrong. We’re not a hospital we’re a jail."

Most of the money is spent on psychotropic drugs, medical needs and special staffing. Dezelan said the treatment they receive in jail…. isn’t making a difference. Many people with mental illness end up back behind bars.

"I’ve been told over and over again by our health care professionals that these people would not be here if they were on proper treatment or if they were on their medications out in the community." Said Dezelan.

The revolving door is especially difficult for people suffering from mental illness who have no home, job, health care, support or money.

Across the street at the City County Building, a mental health court is held once a week to stop this cycle. Judge Barbara Crawford started the court in early 2015 and says it is making a difference. * * *

The court is called Marion County’s Behavioral Health Court. Participants work through five phases of the program that lays out a treatment plan including regular court appearances, medication compliance, drug screening, therapy and other activities to help make long-term life changes.

In 2014, the state legislature passed a bill to reduce recidivism for people with mental health problems and make programs competitive for grant money. This court brings together prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and non-profits to plan and provide wrap-around services, supervision and support.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 12, 2016 09:52 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts