TUSCOLA COUNTY (WJRT) - (05/15/18) - Tuscola County Circuit Court just launched a new program designed to address an unmet need in the community.
Tuscola Mental Health Court brings together the court system, Tuscola Behavioral Health Systems and others to focus on a select group of offenders who may benefit from mental health treatment.
"The main goal is to keep them from going to jail. A lot of these felony cases that we see are habitual offenders, so it's kind of trying to keep them from continuing that pattern because of their mental health needs are not being addressed," said Melissa Caister, the Tuscola Mental Health Court program coordinator.
Caister said the success of the Thumb Regional Sobriety Court lead to the mental health court. Those involved with sobriety court also noticed some of the people in their program really had underlying mental health issues.
A referral to the program can be made by an attorney, judge, therapist, probation officer, family member, friend or even the person who wants the help.
They have to have a non-violent felony case to be considered, as well as other criteria determined by the team.
A judge then has to sentence the person to the program.
Each person will have a treatment plan tailored to their specific needs, and will be part of the program for between 15 and 18 months.
In the end they hope to keep participants from returning to jail.
Mental health court will not be easy, but there will be people to help them every step of the way.
"Making sure their medication is compliant, making sure they're meeting with that case manager, getting the treatment that they need and then follow through with any other thing that might fall into place like community service, getting employment, education needs," Caister said.
The program just started accepting referrals, but it won't officially begin until July 2.