From the Berrien County Trial Court:
On Wednesday, the Berrien County Trial Court and representatives from the 4th Judicial District and 43rd Judicial Circuit in Cass County, received notification from the Michigan Supreme Court’s State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) of a $424,000 award for first year operations of a Regional Mental Health Court (RMHC).
The program, set to begin operations October 1st, is the first of its kind in Michigan.
The concept originated in 2013 when counties in northern Michigan began working cooperatively on the operation of Driving Under the Influence (or DUI) Courts.
In December 2013, SCAO reached out to Michigan’s 15 operational mental health courts in an effort to expand the reach of the programs across the state via regional partnerships.
Mental Health Courts are a type of problem solving court program.
Problem solving courts seek to address the underlying causes of criminal behavior to help participants exit the cycle of involvement with the criminal justice system.
In mental health courts, intensive court supervision is paired with treatment for mental health and substance abuse conditions in an effort to stabilize participants and integrate them back into the community after discharge.
In 2013, there were an estimated 2,800 problem solving courts of various types in operation across the country.
Berrien County’s Mental Health Court began operation in 2009, and welcomed the opportunity to expand and partner with the courts in Cass County.
Planning meetings began in late March and will continue throughout most of the first year. Judges, elected officials, representatives from community mental health service providers and court staff have worked together to form the program and assemble the grant application.
The regional program will allow Berrien and Cass to better share expertise and work collaboratively to produce the best possible program and services for enrollees. The RMHC aims to work with around 50 defendants from Berrien and Cass between October 1, 2014, and September 20, 2015.