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Chatham-Savannah Mental Health Court

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $199,813)

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) seeks to increase public safety through an innovative, cross-system, collaborative response to individuals with mental illness who come in contact with the criminal or juvenile justice systems. This program is funded through Public Law 111-8 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2009). The program is designed to increase public safety by facilitating collaboration among the criminal justice, juvenile justice, and mental health and substance abuse treatment systems to increase access to services for offenders with mental illness. Activities under this initiative will encourage early intervention for 'system-involved' individuals with mental illness; provide new and existing mental health courts with various treatment options; maximize diversion opportunities for non-violent offenders with mental illness and co-occurring disorders; promote training for justice and treatment professionals on criminal justice processed and mental health and substance abuse issues; and facilitate communication, collaboration, and the delivery of support services among justice professionals, treatment and related service providers, and governmental partners.

Chatham County is the recipient of a Category III Expansion grant. The county, through the Chatham-Savannah Mental Health Court (CSMHC), will use the grant funds to contract with one dedicated case manager to allow the program to reach 60 participants verses 27 participants, support adequate training for CSMHC team members, and secure two sheriff's deputies to conduct home compliance checks and drug screens.

The CSMHC is a judicially supervised program that targets individuals who, because of an untreated mental illness, have come in contact with the criminal justice system. The target population consists of adults seventeen years of age and older, who have a documented primary mental health diagnosis with or without a co-occurring substance abuse disorder, and are charged with non-violent misdemeanor or felony offenses. The CSMHC seeks to increase public safety by addressing individuals with mental illness with or without co-occurring disorders who repeatedly come into contact with the criminal justice system through innovative cross-system collaboration under the direction of a mental health court, which is targeted and responsive to the needs of eligible nonviolent offenders, while preserving the integrity of the court. The CSMHC addresses the underlying issues that lead to repeated involvement in the criminal justice system by compelling participants to address his/her mental illness by coupling intensive treatment with enhanced supervision. The program does not excuse offenders of their criminal liability, rather the program ensures that non-violent offenders do not remain in jail simply because of a mental illness. The program acts as a coordinator to make certain that participants have access to the recommended treatment and services, engage in the treatment and services, and are held accountable when they do not comply with program requirements.


Date Created: September 15, 2009