October 26, 2011
Highly specialized Mental Health Court to hold first graduation ceremony on November 1
JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and Chief Judge Gerald Kinney announce that two people will be the first to graduate from the Will County Mental Health Court Program.
A graduation ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 1 at the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago Street. The public is invited to attend.
State’s Attorney Glasgow and Judge Kinney established Mental Health Court in 2010 to provide judicial monitoring and treatment services to qualifying criminal defendants who suffer from mental illnesses.
Mental Health Court’s mission is to provide comprehensive mental health and addiction services as well as therapeutic judicial intervention through a team approach to defendants with severe mental illnesses or co-occurring disorders. The goal is to protect the public and improve the quality of life for defendants. Graduation is the final step in a program that provides comprehensive mental health services including therapy, case management, participation in psycho-social rehabilitation groups, drug testing and sanctions when appropriate.
“Successfully completing Mental Health Court is a major step in the lives of these individuals,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “Our court system’s primary directives are to administer justice and protect the public. In our highly specialized Mental Health Court, we also provide defendants with the tools they need to manage their conditions. The entire community benefits when these graduates can hold jobs, pursue educations and pay taxes.”
Each potential defendant is carefully screened before being admitted to Mental Health Court. Anyone who has been convicted of or charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, a sex offense, armed robbery, arson, kidnapping, stalking or any offense involving the discharge of a firearm is barred from participation. Defendants charged with other crimes may not be allowed to participate depending upon the unique circumstances of their individual cases.
To be eligible for Mental Health Court, candidates must be diagnosed as having a mental disorder or a co-occurring disorder, the latter of which is a mental illness combined with an addiction.
The Mental Health Court team assists participants in understanding how managing their condition can keep them from engaging in criminal activity and eliminate their negative contacts with local police. The process involves improving their relationships with family members and friends who can provide them with important support.
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.