Mental Health Court

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With a goal of preventing mentally troubled offenders from getting into more serious trouble by getting them in contact with mental health providers, Cowlitz County commissioners approved the hiring of a mental health court coordinator last year. The coordinator works with clients with mental disorders who face misdemeanor charges and whose cases are handled through District Court. Mental Health Court is a voluntary 24-month program that promotes both treatment and public safety. Eligible participants receive intensive case management that includes mental health and chemical dependency treatment, finding suitable housing and acquiring general medical care. Upon graduation, participants will have their charges reduced or dismissed. The program helps participants improve their sense of self worth, connect with community resources, find a lasting sense of contentedness and feel accountable to their community. Impact on the community comes in the form of reduced repeat criminal offenders, improved public safety, increased communication between the justice system and wellness agencies, better allocated community resources and a more effective alternative to traditional prosecution and incarceration of non-violent offenders.