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Increasing access to justice through an expansion of a mental health court in Charlottesville and Albemarle counties in Virginia.

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $333,724)

As the local mental health agency serving the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, Region Ten Community Services Board (RTCSB) seeks to expand the mental health court of both jurisdictions. This expansion is a program-specific priority area, and this application also facilitates utilization of validated assessment tools to identify and prioritize individuals with a moderate or high risk of recidivism and a need for treatment services, which is a second program-specific priority area. Additionally, expanding the  mental health court advances OJP priority areas by increasing access to justice for defendants with mental illness and serving high poverty areas. 10 out of the 34 census tracts served by the mental health court have poverty rates  >20%. 

RTCSB is the lead applicant for this grant, and the partnering justice agency is Offender Aid and Restoration-Jefferson Area Community Corrections (OAR). OAR is the local probation office and fiscal agent of the mental health court. Additional partner agencies are Partner for Mental Health (PMH), also a grant subcontractor, the Commonwealth Attorneys of Charlottesville and Albemarle, the Charlottesville/Albemarle Public Defenders Office, and the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail (ACRJ). 

The combined 2020 population of Charlottesville and Albemarle is 157,602.(1) Approximately 78% of the population is White, 13% is Black, 6% is Asian, and 2% are of two of more races. 6% of the population are Hispanic of any race, and 10 of the 34 census tracts of Charlottesville and Albemarle have poverty rates greater than 20% (2)The target population for this grant is adults whose mental illness contributed to their criminal charges in either Charlottesville or Albemarle and are assessed as having a moderate to high risk of recidivism. Over the three-year course of this grant, the mental health court will serve 150 individuals, a 100% increase over current capacity.

Established in 2018, the Charlottesville/Albemarle mental health court has helped participants access clinical care and improve social determinants of health while avoiding incarceration and convictions. Because ACRJ screens inmates for serious mental illness, it is known that only a small percentage of eligible defendants are being referred for participation. Capacity constrains also restrict participation to those facing charges in General District Court. This grant will expand capacity so the court can serve more defendants eligible under current criteria and potentially expand into Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and Circuit Court.

Date Created: December 7, 2021