MORRIS – The Grundy County Mental Health Court program is moving forward after receiving a grant from Adult Redeploy Illinois for $51,380
Local officials and professionals worked together for five years to obtain approval for the court, which was granted in June by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.
Mental Health Court will divert nonviolent, mentally ill offenders away from prisons and into a rehabilitation program.
“They want us on board and operating by January,” Grundy County Judge Lance Peterson said. “With being told so late that we are approved, we think it will take us until Feb. 1 to start services to defendants.”
Originally organizers submitted an application for $100,000 for a full year and hoped to begin last fall. But they were told the funds were not available and to resubmit a grant application for six months. The group received word Thursday that resubmitted application was approved, according to Peterson.
The funding comes from the state and is administered through Illinois Adult Redeploy, an organization sponsoring state programs aimed at reducing prison overcrowding, disrupting the incarceration cycle and saving taxpayer money.
In 2006, the Bureau of Justice reported nearly 1.3 million mentally ill adults were incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails. Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland said he foresees about eight to 12 defendants in Grundy County taking part in the program once it is up and running.
“We don’t have a huge target, we have about a dozen that would benefit from the program at any given time,” Helland said. “We’ve had some defendants in Drug Court that would be better served by Mental Health Court.”
He said it’s often difficult to tell if the drug addiction is caused by the mental illness or if the behavior is caused by the drug addiction.
Participating offenders will be reviewed and treated by a mental health professional, and be provided with the resources needed to reintegrate into society.
Helland said the goal is to keep mentally ill offenders from recommitting crimes and returning to prison by providing proper medication and treatments.
Aside from treating the offenders, the program would save Grundy taxpayers a significant amount of money by keeping them out of prison, and treating them so they don’t have as many hospitalizations, Helland said.
Grundy County Mental Health Court organizers and advocates include Peterson, Helland, the public defender’s office, the probation department, Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan’s office, the Grundy County Health Department and Susie Galloway with Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers.