National Alliance on Mental Illness
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The Federal Mental Health Courts Program

Congress passed America's Law Enforcement and Mental Health Project (P.L. 106-515) in 2000 in order to begin assisting states and communities across the nation in putting in place innovative approaches to diverting offenders into treatment programs and easing the growing burden on criminal justice and corrections systems. This new law authorizes the Justice Department to fund up to 100 such courts that involve:

1) continuing judicial supervision, including periodic review, over offenders with mental illness (or a co-occurring substance abuse disorder) who are charged with non-violent offenses, and

2) the coordinated delivery of services that includes: a) specialized training of law enforcement and judicial personnel to identify and address the unique needs of offenders with mentally illness, b) outpatient or inpatient treatment that carries with it the possibility of dismissal of charges or reduced sentencing upon successful completion of treatment; c) centralized case management involving the consolidation of all of a defendant's cases (including violations of probation), d) the coordination of all mental health treatment plans and social services, including life skills training, such as housing placement, vocational training, education, job placement, health care, and relapse prevention for each participant who requires such services, and e) continuing supervision of treatment plan compliance and continuity of psychiatric care for up to the maximum term of sentence of the criminal offense.

The Federal Mental Health Courts Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. For more information about this program, contact Michael Guerriere, Branch Chief, Bureau of Justice Assistance, 202-616-3176.