Mentally ill suspects would be the sole focus.
It's a welcome addition-in fact, you just might be able to hear the applause. That's the word from advocates for the mentally ill-after judges in Harris County voted this week to create a full-time felony mental health court.
"It really creates an opportunity for people with serious mental illnesses who might have committed a felony to get the right kind of direction and supervision that will allow them to not continue to recycle through the system," said Mental Health Association of Greater Houston President and CEO Betsy Schwartz, adding that specific, specialized handling of mentally ill defendants can make a big difference in the long run.
"In a way that is cognizant of their mental illness-and helps them regain their stability and finds them the right kind of treatment and right kind of services in general," Schwartz said, noting her group has seen such courts in action in other parts of the country-and can vouch for the success of such a program.
And while the system is a winner with such a process, Schwartz said the defendant can also be helped to make changes for the better.
"It also creates the kind of accountability and responsibility for the consumer (defendant) themselves so that they're able to report back to the judge-and know they are accountable to the judge-and they also have a say in what's going to happen to them," Schwartz said.
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