Mental health courts receive more than $5M

The Michigan Supreme Court announced Monday that nearly $5.2 has been awarded to fund the operation of 38 mental health courts in Fiscal Year 2020. Extensive follow-up analysis shows that graduates of mental health courts are about half as likely to commit another crime within three years of admission to a program.

"This funding will help Michigan maintain its national leadership in addressing how the criminal justice system addresses the challenge of residents with mental health issues. Through structured treatment and supervision, our life-changing treatment courts ensure that individuals who are struggling with mental illness have access to the help they need to take care of themselves and their families," said Justice Elizabeth T. Clement, who serves as the MSC liaison to problem-solving courts.

Additional relevant findings in the most recent "Solving Problems, Saving Lives" report include:

- Unemployment among adult circuit mental health court (MHC) graduates was cut by more than half.

- Nearly 100 percent of juvenile mental health court graduates improved their education level.

- Nearly 100 percent of graduates (adult and juvenile) reported improved mental health.

- Nearly 100 percent of graduates (adult and juvenile) reported an improved quality of life.

In addition to funding, the Supreme Court provides these courts with operational support and resources, including a manual on state certification requirements, and educational programming.

Problem-solving courts are nontraditional programs that focus on nonviolent offenders whose underlying medical and social problems have contributed to recurring contacts with the criminal justice system. Performance of problem-solving courts is tracked as part of a broader performance measures initiative to monitor court performance statewide. Data collected is used to identify and share best practices and to target areas that need improvement.

State Court Administrator Milton L. Mack Jr., a former probate judge, has worked extensively at the national and state levels on addressing the decriminalization of mental illness, including drafting a policy paper. "As a judge, I know firsthand that dealing with mental illness is one of the toughest challenges a family can face," he said. "I believe the judiciary has a key role to play in enabling Michigan's families to get timely help for loved ones facing mental health issues."

Published: Wed, Oct 23, 2019