The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 25, 2013

Mental Health Court program making a difference


"We need to stabilize their lives first, then work on recovery," Rosenberg said.

In fact, except in some cases of violent crime, said Daily, this would be a good system for most offenders. Unfortunately, the whole program is very time consuming and costs too much to use for every case. Working full time, Rosenberg can have no more than 25 clients.

"A lot more people want to be in the program than we have room for," said Daily.

They have to be very selective who they admit into the program.

"There are people we may not be able to help ... and those we believe we can help," the judge said. Those are the people who get into the program.

When they first come in, they may deny they have a problem, Rosenberg said. They eventually acknowledge their issues and begin work on resolving them.

"That growth is great to see," he said.

Daily said the eventual goal is that the participants do the right things without being guided.

"We've had a large number success stories, but how do you define success?" asked Rosenberg.

It's more complicated than with the typical offender. There, staying out of jail and holding a job may be success for nearly every offender. For an offender with mental illness, taking their medication consistently may be a big first goal. For another, stopping drinking may be the goal, or reconnecting with family, or learning how to make good decisions. It will be different for every client, the officer said.

Working as a team allows them to better come up with solutions by approaching problems from different directions.

"... so we can determine what's best for that client," said Rosenberg.

Doesn't the court and law enforcement normally talk about what's best for society?

"In the long term, what's best for the client is also best for society," Rosenberg said.

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