The Ottumwa Courier

Court Calls

April 11, 2012

Why mental health court?

Court Calls

OTTUMWA — Dealing with repeat offenders is one of the biggest challenges for the criminal justice system in America. Mentally ill individuals who commit criminal acts are among those making repeated trips into the courthouse. In an effort to stem this tide, the 8th Judicial District recently started one of the first mental health courts in Iowa.  

In a mental health court, the judicial branch of government collaborates with individuals and agencies managed by the executive branch — the prosecutor and a defense attorney, corrections officers and therapists — to address the root cause of criminal behavior from mentally ill persons. Iowa prisons are filled beyond capacity, with over 41 percent of all inmates having at least one diagnosed mental illness. Some exhibit serious, persistent conditions such as bi-polar disorder, major depressive disorder, psychosis/psychotic disorder and schizophrenia. Nearly 26.5 percent of the entire prison population is seriously mental ill; among female inmates, the incidence is 48 percent.

Mental health court is a selective program that diverts non-violent, mentally ill offenders from prison to intensive, community-based corrections. By treating people locally, correctional costs are reduced. As defendants confront their illness and become empowered to lead more productive lives, the toll crime takes on the community shrinks.

Like the successful process used in other therapeutic courts, Wapello County’s mental health court accepts referrals from judges, attorneys, and probation officers. fter a screening, the entire mental health court team determines whether a willing defendant is appropriate for the opportunity. Once accepted, offenders begin an individualized treatment plan that often requires 12 to 18 months to complete. They attend frequent court sessions, and meet often with the probation officer, therapist and the whole treatment team. Under rigorous supervision, participants must take their prescribed medications, endure random drug tests, obey the law, meet curfew and other probation requirements and maintain a job, stay in school or consistently participate in some other pro-social activity. Upon successful completion of all phases and requirements, participants graduate with new-found skills to cope with mental illness and abstain from criminal acts.

Studies bear out the value of mental health court: participants are less likely to be involved with new crime than non-participants who suffer from mental illness. The program is life-changing for the clients involved — and for the community!

Judge Daily is a District Associate Judge who lives in Ottumwa. By special assignment of 8th Judicial District Chief Judge James Q. Blomgren, he heads the Drug Court and the Mental Health Court based in Wapello County.

1
Text Only
Court Calls
  • 0824 Court Calls photo Scieszinski -M -T The reach of sociology Every year Iowa judges are invited to speak in local schools, on college campuses and at civic events to help the community understand the role of the courts in daily life. An interesting trend on my circuit of judicial outreach is the demand for pre

    August 23, 2013 1 Photo

  • Good news By Chief Judge Mary Ann Brown The Iowa Judicial Branch dedicates itself to providing independent and accessible forums for the fair and prompt resolution of disputes, administering justice under law equally to all people. -- Iowa Judicial Branch Mis

    July 27, 2013

  • 0622 OTT Opinion Judge Lucy Gamon photo -T -L The judge as gatekeeper when the goal is justice "… no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Constitution of the United States, Amendment 4 It is 2 a.m. on a dar

    June 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • 0608 OTT Judge Joel Yates photo -L Who was James Otis? Most Americans can associate some names with our country's fight for independence from the English Monarchy, which began in earnest in 1775: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Adams. Few, if any, would credit James Otis. Here is why they should. It

    June 8, 2013 1 Photo

  • 0529 OTT Opinion Judge Annette Scieszinski photo A different kind of cyber threat The reality is, that in our country's culture, people depend on electronic devices. For many, it's become a 24/7 relationship. Sometimes I wonder where it will lead us, and if coming generations will be born with advanced dexterities to instinctively

    May 29, 2013 1 Photo

  • 0511 OTT Opinion Judge Myron Gookin -T -M We never really graduate It's May, and the graduation announcements are rolling in. It's a wonderful time to celebrate the educational achievements of those who are graduating from various schools. It did not take me long, however, to realize that learning does not end with

    May 11, 2013 1 Photo

  • 0425 Opinion Judge Mary Ann Brown photo -L Spring brings magistrate commissions Hopefully, spring color will soon be here. It seems like it's been a long time coming. This spring also brings with it the process associated with selecting judicial magistrates. Local commissions have begun the process of taking applications, interv

    April 25, 2013 1 Photo

  • The kind of judge I will be

    April 6, 2013

  • Selecting a new judge

    March 16, 2013

  • Symbolism and functionality

    March 2, 2013

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National