More than 80% of program graduates did not re-offend...
Judge Melissa Blackburn presides over the court and oversees a staff of specialists trained to address the particular needs of court participants. For the 2019 Fiscal Year 229 people were evaluated by Mental Health Court specialists to determine their eligibility for the program with 62 new participants admitted to the program. More than 80% of successful program graduates did not re-offend and did not return to involvement with the criminal justice system.
Under Judge Blackburn’s direction, court staff works on a routine basis to ensure compliance, assist in housing, monitor treatment for substance and alcohol abuse and provide medical services with a goal of establishing stability needed to be a contributing member of the community allowing them a fresh start and an opportunity to succeed in life.
Judge Blackburn understands that state and federal governments have failed to fully address the challenges confronting those with mental health issues - leaving reform to those who are willing to bring new thinking and a belief that the justice system can be a path to recovery rather than a tool for punishment to make a real difference.
When we consider difficulties with increased incarceration and the constraints budget reductions placed on our justice and mental health systems, innovation in our approach is critical. The Davidson County Mental Health Court is meeting these challenges and providing a vital service to the community.
TheChattanooga.com Friday, June 12, 2015
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