Lincoln County Commissioners, along with law enforcement, the District Attorney and the Courts are getting tired of seeing many jail inmates being repeatedly re-arrested for minor crimes and being recycled through the criminal justice system. And so commissioners are making a minor investment in a program to prevent some of those folks from repeatedly coming through the doors at the Sheriff’s Office and the Courthouse.
Lincoln County Public Information Officer Casey Miller says the county is launching a new approach. They’re calling it “Mental Health Court.” Similar to “Drug Court,” a small number of “promising” defendants will be handled by a judge who will give special attention to mental health issues. Rather than automatically being sentenced to jail time or lengthy probation (at great cost to the county) the Mental Health Court will enroll these select few defendants into mental health programs, some of which may require certain medications.
Casey said since these medications are frequently expensive, and the fact that most defendants are indigent, Lincoln County Commissioners are investing $10,000 toward providing defendants with the prescriptions they need to succeed. County Commission Chair Bill Hall said “the funding is to provide seed money to ensure defendants have the best chance for turning their lives around.” Hall adds there is a very good chance that the county’s $10,000 investment can be recaptured through grants and other fundraising to be rolled over to benefit other minor crime defendants who show promise at becoming productive citizens again.
Miller says the Mental Health Court will target five specific defendants for enrollment later this month. Lincoln County’s Behavioral Health program staff will join other mental health professionals in the community to act as a team to assist the judge in creating a better outcomes than just ordering more jail and probation time.
Commission Chairman Bill Hall said he realizes that economic times are tight, but he and his fellow commissioners view the new Mental Health Court as a valuable cost-savings program for the courts and for law enforcement.Share on Facebook