In 2001, Nashville created one of the first Mental Health Courts in the nation.

Since then, the Mental Health Court has provided crucial support and assistance to some of Nashville’s most vulnerable citizens. While politicians debate the need for criminal justice reform, Nashville has been on the leading edge of working with those in our community who are dealing with mental health challenges.
Davidson County
Mental Health Court
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.

Our Goal is to Establish Stability

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.

News About Judge Blackburn

Veterans Courts Get State Funding; Hamilton County Working On Program Friday, June 12, 2015

Tennessee now has the nation’s only funding mechanism to create and sustain Veterans Courts that uniquely serve veterans with tailored programming as part of their sentencing.
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7 graduate from Davidson Co. Mental Health Court


It’s a structured program giving people a chance to overcome legal issues related to mental health challenges.
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A mother's grief turns into a Judge's inspiration

Brad Schmitt The Tennessean Published 10:00 p.m. CT Jun. 18, 2017 Updated 5:48 a.m. CT Jun. 19, 2017

Nashville Judge Melissa Blackburn still hurts deeply from the loss of her teen daughter, but she uses the pain to generate empathy for defendants in her mental health court.
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When mental illness leads to an arrest, this court steps in

Anita Wadhwani The Tennessean Published 10:00 p.m. CT Jul. 28, 2018 Updated 10:22 p.m. CT Jul. 28, 2018

"You want to get them out of jail so they stay out," Blackburn said. "I don't want them back."
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It's time to reevaluate the way Tennessee approaches the justice system

Melissa Blackburn - Guest Columnist Published March 9, 2020

Attitudes are now changing to re-imagine how we utilize the resources available to turn the justice system to a pathway toward restoration, rather than just a tool for punishment.
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Davidson County judge explains intercepting the dangerously mentally ill

by Dennis Ferrier Tuesday, April 24th 2018

Davidson County’s mental health court provides a great snapshot of recovery.
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Paid for by Committee to Elect Melissa Blackburn
Sharon W. Hurt, Treasurer
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