Mental Health Court
Mental Health Court
Mental Health Court is a voluntary treatment alternative program. The Will County Mental Health Court's primary goal is to stop the recidivism rate of those suffering from mental illnesses and assist them with becoming productive members of society. It aims to provide comprehensive mental health and addiction services as well as therapeutic judicial intervention through a team approach to defendants with severe mental illness or co-occurring disorders in an effort to protect public safety and improve quality of life.
There are more people with mental illness in the Illinois Department of Corrections than in all public and private psychiatric hospitals in Illinois combined. As the number of arrestees with mental health issues has continued to increase, law enforcement officials and mental health professionals began to realize the existing approach to dealing with mentally ill offenders was ineffective.
Mental Health Courts provide these offenders a structured program of comprehensive mental health services, mandatory drug testing, judicial monitoring, sanctions, incentives and support from the court team to decrease recurring arrests and days in jail. The goal is to improve their ability to independently manage their psychiatric conditions and improve family and social relationships.
Mental Health Courts were inspired by the success of other problem-solving courts, including Drug Courts and Domestic Violence Courts. The first Mental Health Court began in 1997; today eight have opened in Illinois and more than 200 are operating across the United States.
Program Overview and Eligibility Criteria
Mental Health Court is voluntary. To be selected to participate in Mental Health Court, the attorney must first determine the client's eligibility. To be eligible for Mental Health Court, the client:
- Must reside in Will County
- Must be diagnosed with a DSM-IV-TR Axis I Mental Disorder or co-occurring disorder
- Must not be charged with a violent offense (murder, criminal sexual assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, arson, stalking, any firearms offense, etc.)
- Must have committed the offense as a direct result of a mental illness
- Must not have been previously involved in any Mental Health Court program in any jurisdiction
If the client meets those requirements, the attorney will complete an application referring the client to Mental Health Court. Releases to obtain all treatment records will be signed by the applicant. The client is then evaluated and assessed by members of the Will County Health Department. The Will County Health Department recommends the inclusion or exclusion of the client to the Mental Health Court Team. If the client is accepted into the program, a contract will be signed.
Mental Health Court is a highly intensive program. Participants will attend either inpatient or outpatient treatment, as determined by their assessment. They will have regular meetings with their caseworker, other participants, and their therapist. Mental Health Court meets every Tuesday afternoon. Currently, there are five (5) active participants. The estimated completion date of the program can vary between one (1) and three (3) years from the date the contract is signed. Successful completion of the Mental Health Court program results in dismissal of the current charge(s).
Representing the Public Defender's Office are Assistant Public Defenders Amy Christiansen and Julie Primozic. The Honorable Judge Domencia Osterberger presides over Mental Health Court.
Notice of New Drug Law: click here
Application for Mental Health Court: click here