Mental Health Courts
The origin of mental health courts stemmed from situations similar to those preceding the development of drug courts – repeat offenders in need of treatment services. With available community resources dwindling for people with serious mental illness (SMI), the courts were seeing more repeat offenders with untreated mental illness. Florida’s jails and prisons are not designed, equipped, or funded to deal with SMI, so the use of the drug court model/problem-solving court model was a logical response.
As of July 2012, Florida has 25 mental health courts in operation. Like drug courts, mental health courts hold offenders accountable while linking them to the treatment services they need to address their mental illness. Monitoring and treating offenders with SMI in a mental health court is more effective, efficient, and less expensive than the remedies available through traditional justice system approaches.