Court Would Serve Mentally Ill Inmates

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Talmadge Jones says over the past few decades, people who used to be in mental health institutions have wound up in county jails – not the best of circumstances. 

"A jail or a prison is the worst place to ever treat someone for mental illness. Often they fear their attorney, they fear the judge they can’t communicate."

About 16% of the inmates in the county jail receive some form of psychiatric service. Under he Mental Health Court pilot project, non-violent prisoners suffering from bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia and other illnesses would get help from peer advocates and family service workers. 

"Who will actually work in the court and help transport the defendant to and from the jail, to their program and make sure they’re getting their meds and those types of things."
Judge Talmadge Jones says getting mentally ill prisoners the treatment they need can decrease re-arrests and help save the county Millions of dollars.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Tuesday is set to discuss a budget for the program. It could start this summer.