Mental Health Court created to help mentally ill offenders - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Mental Health Court improving lives of mentally ill offenders

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Some non-violent offenders with mental illness are being allowed to avoid jail time through a diversion program called Mental Health Court.

The program began a decade ago with the goal of improving the lives of the mentally ill and keeping them out of jail by addressing the underlying problems contributing to their criminal behavior.

"We're not fixing them, you know, and we're not curing them, but we are helping them improve their lives," said Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Heather Russel.

Judge Russel, along with Judge Lisa Allen meet with social workers, public defenders and mental health professionals to discuss each defendant scheduled to appear in Mental Health Court.

To qualify for the program, the defendants must have been diagnosed with a mental illness, such as depression or schizophrenia.

"We connect them with services. We have a whole team of people... and all together we try to keep them on track with their treatment," said Judge Allen.

Most of defendants enrolled in the program found themselves in trouble due to their mental illness.

Robert Ritter, who has Schizoaffective disorder, was charged with assault after a confrontation with an officer. Ritter could have been given serious jail time, but he was accepted into the Mental Health Court program which he says has been a big help. 

"After all is said and done with... very positive. It helped me feel better when it comes to doing, doing better for myself because of going through the experience of that program, and as well I feel it's made me a better person, and it's helped my mental side too," said Ritter.

Officials say not everyone who enrolls in the program completes it and are then usually sentenced like any other offender.

However, Ritter is among the defendants who have successfully completed the program, which means the criminal charges against him will be expunged from his record.

In addition, of all the defendants who completed the program, 92% have had no convictions in the first year and 77% have had no convictions to date.

Copyright 2013 WXIX. All rights reserved.

  • FOX19 HeadlinesMore>>

  • Comey memo: Trump complained about Flynn's 'judgment issues'

    Comey memo: Trump complained about Flynn's 'judgment issues'

    Thursday, April 19 2018 4:32 PM EDT2018-04-19 20:32:51 GMT
    Thursday, April 19 2018 9:25 PM EDT2018-04-20 01:25:17 GMT
    (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II). Former FBI director James Comey poses for photographs at a Barnes & Noble book store before speaking Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in New York.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II). Former FBI director James Comey poses for photographs at a Barnes & Noble book store before speaking Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in New York.

    The Justice Department has agreed to provide Congress with copies of several memos written by former FBI Director James Comey, relenting as House Republicans threatened to subpoena the documents and criticized...

    Full Story >

    The Justice Department has agreed to provide Congress with copies of several memos written by former FBI Director James Comey, relenting as House Republicans threatened to subpoena the documents and criticized department officials.

    Full Story >
  • Prosecutor: Prince thought he was taking common painkiller

    Prosecutor: Prince thought he was taking common painkiller

    Thursday, April 19 2018 12:42 AM EDT2018-04-19 04:42:26 GMT
    Thursday, April 19 2018 9:23 PM EDT2018-04-20 01:23:22 GMT
    (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File). FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2007 file photo, Prince performs during halftime of the Super Bowl XLI football game in Miami. Minnesota prosecutors are planning an announcement Thursday, April 19, 2018, in their two-year investi...(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File). FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2007 file photo, Prince performs during halftime of the Super Bowl XLI football game in Miami. Minnesota prosecutors are planning an announcement Thursday, April 19, 2018, in their two-year investi...

    A two-year probe into the overdose death of music superstar Prince is reaching a critical stage as a county prosecutor reveals whether criminal charges will be filed.

    Full Story >

    A two-year probe into the overdose death of music superstar Prince is reaching a critical stage as a county prosecutor reveals whether criminal charges will be filed.

    Full Story >
  • Parent upset after preschool bans child from having a 'best friend'

    Parent upset after preschool bans child from having a 'best friend'

    Thursday, April 19 2018 9:17 PM EDT2018-04-20 01:17:59 GMT
    Thursday, April 19 2018 9:17 PM EDT2018-04-20 01:17:59 GMT
    Juliana Hartwell attended Pentucket Workshop Preschool in Georgetown, MA. (Source: WBZ/CNN)Juliana Hartwell attended Pentucket Workshop Preschool in Georgetown, MA. (Source: WBZ/CNN)

    "I think it's ridiculous" said the mother of the child, after she was told she couldn't use the term "best friend" by a teacher.

    Full Story >

    "I think it's ridiculous" said the mother of the child, after she was told she couldn't use the term "best friend" by a teacher.

    Full Story >
Powered by Frankly