Five graduate mental health court


DECATUR-The quiet of a Macon County courtroom gave way to sounds of celebration Tuesday, as five participants in the county’s Mental Health Court graduated from the program.

The Mental Health Court is an alternative to the traditional justice system for people charged with nonviolent crimes who have a recognized serious mental illness.

“Once they’re admitted to the program, the state’s attorney’s office will put their criminal charges on hold, and as long as they do well in the program, those charges would remain on hold and, ultimately, if they complete the program, all those charges would be dismissed,” explained Circuit Judge R.C. Bollinger.

During their time in the program, participants follow an individual mental health plan, attend group meetings, and check in regularly with the court. The five participants who graduated Tuesday were in the program for an average of 18 months, Bollinger said.

“The combined criminal offenses for these five graduates today, there were 41 charges, I believe,” Bollinger said. “Since these people have been in the program … they’ve combined only picked up three new traffic charges, and those are petty type offenses, so that’s a measure of success.”

Among the goals of the program is to reduce nights spent in jail, recurring arrests and other costly problems.

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