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Councilmembers Join Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy for Press Conference on Mental Health Court, Sept. 14 at 12:30 p.m.

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Councilmembers Join Montgomery County

State’s Attorney John McCarthy for

Press Conference on Mental Health Court,   

Sept. 14 at 12:30 p.m.

Joint Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committee

meeting will follow at 1 p.m. with an update on the impact of mental health court   

ROCKVILLE, Md., September 12, 2017—Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy will join Council President Roger Berliner, who serves on the Health and Human Services Committee; Councilmember Marc Elrich, who serves as chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee; Councilmember George Leventhal, who serves as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee; Councilmembers Tom Hucker and Sidney Katz, who serve on the Council’s Public Safety Committee; and Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who serves as chair for the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, for a press event about Montgomery County’s Mental Health Court on Sept. 14 at 12:30 p.m.

John McCarthy will host the press conference with Councilmembers in the Third Floor Council Conference Room at the Council Office Building, which is located at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.  A joint Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committee meeting will immediately follow the press conference with a full discussion about the impact that this new court is having in Montgomery County.  The joint meeting will take place in the 7th Floor Council Hearing Room at 1 p.m.       

On July 8, 2015 Administrative Judge John W. Debelius III invited stakeholders to the first of several Mental Health Court Planning and Implementation Task Force meetings. The purpose of the task force was to establish a mental health court in the County to address the ever-increasing number of individuals committing minor crimes due to mental illness. Like other problem-solving courts, the new mental health court provides an alternative to incarceration by steering individuals suffering from mental illness to treatment and community supports. 

 

A team approach is taken to processing cases in mental health courts.  Case managers, probation agents, and mental health workers collaborate with judges.  In addition, mental health services are available in courtrooms. 

 

Mental health providers encourage defendants to focus on housing, job placement, and maintaining and stabilizing their medications. Defendants report back to mental health court judges each week, rather than to probation officers.

 

Both the Montgomery County District Court and the Montgomery County Circuit Court have implemented mental health courts.  The Honorable Marina L. Sabett is the presiding judge in the District Court and the Honorable Gary E. Bair is the presiding judge in the Circuit Court. 

 

In Montgomery County, the mental health courts accepted their first participants in December 2016.   Currently, the District Court has 44 mental health court participants and the Circuit Court has 13.  

 

Similar mental health courts can be found in Baltimore City, Harford County, and Prince George’s County, Md. as well as Washington, D.C. 

 

Mental health court participants are identified through mental health screenings and assessments.  Defendants voluntarily participate in a judicially supervised treatment plan developed jointly by a team of court staff and mental health professionals. Nonviolent defendants may apply to have their cases moved from criminal to mental health courts.

 

The goal of mental health courts is to decrease the number of cases in the criminal justice system by providing participants with judicial leadership to improve their social functioning, employment status, housing stability, and mental health treatment.  These courts also seek to address the underlying problems that contribute to criminal behavior and help to decrease recidivism rates for those with mental illness. 

 

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Release ID: 17-272
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 2407777926