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Defining the Need:

Data shows that 10% of the criminal offenders in Mansfield Municipal Court have a mental health diagnosis. Many of those suffering with mental illness have been identified by the court as repeat offenders who had previously received and failed voluntary treatment from the public mental health system. As a result, it became clear that a coordinated effort between the court and mental health treatment providers would best serve this population.

- Ohio has the 13th highest rate of incarceration in the nation
- Nationally, between 6-15% of all people in the jail and prisons have a severe mental illness
- 13% of individuals confined in correctional facilities have cooccurring mental health and substance abuse disorders
- Research has shown that those compelled to treatment are often more successful than those who voluntarily submit to treatment

In 2004....the Mansfield Mental Health Court was born.

Court Mission:

The primary mission of the Mansfield Municipal Mental Health Court is to preserve community safety, lower recidivism, and offer cost-effective alternatives to incarceration for offenders with severe mental illnesses. We strive to effectively incorporate the continuity of care available in our community into judicial decisions.

The Mansfield Mental Health Court recognizes that with proper care, support, and treatment, individuals with mental illness can recover and lead meaningful and productive lives.

Principles of the Court:
- Ensuring services are provided to address the full range of an individual's behavioral health needs
- Requiring that individual's treatment plans are focused on consumer recovery and choice
- providing advocacy including competent legal counsel and non-legal or peer counseling to assist an accused individual in making informed choices
- Supporting the development of a continuum of services that include a focus in employment, housing and transportation
- Encouraging leadership and involvement of the judicial system at all levels of effective mental health

Court Process:

Offenders are first referred to the Treatment Court Coordinator, and a mental health assessment is arranged, if needed. All referrals are reviewed by the treatment team, consisting of Judge Ardis or Judge Ault, the Treatment Court Coordinator and mental health treatment professionals. The team then determines whether an offender is appropriate for Mental Health Court. Participants must be diagnosed with a severe mental disability such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and agree to comply with the court supervision and treatment.

Offender may plead guilty and be sentenced by the Mental Health Court or participate in the diversion program. With diversion, successful completion of the program results in dismissal of the charges.

Participants are required to attend bi-weekly Mental Health Court sessions, actively participate in treatment and submit to intensive supervision by the court, Treatment may include individual and group counseling, medication, community psychiatric support services, education, employment and substance abuse services. Intensive supervision by probation officers includes home visits, drug and alcohol testing, and curfew checks.

The length of involvement in Mental Health Court is determined by each individual's needs. When treatment goals have been achieved and the person exhibits stability within the community, he/she graduates from the program. Graduates may join an alumni group, providing mentoring for new participants.

Jails and persons have in effect become the mental health system of our day. Mentally ill inmates require far more jail and prison resources than other inmates. Taxpayers' dollars are paying for police officers to repeatedly arrest, transport, and process mentally ill defendants; jail costs associated with treatment and crisis intervention; salaries of judges and court staff, prosecutors and defense attorneys; and many more hidden costs. Providing community based treatment for this population is crucial, if not for altruistic reasons, then for cost savings to the tax payer.

"A revolving door problem has developed in this county. Jail and prisons have become the de facto mental health system of our day. We must reverse this trend." - Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Supreme Court of Ohio

Interested? Want to know more information? Call Kim Romoser, Treatment Court Coordinator at 419-755-9603.