Criminal Justice

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The Office of Mental Health has developed a partnership with the criminal justice system to reach a unified goal of appropriately diverting individuals with serious mental illness from correctional institutions. When diversion is not possible, there is a process in place to explore treatment and support services, beginning during incarceration and continuing after release into community services.

In 2006, the Department of Behavioral Health/Developmental Disabilities and the Montgomery County Correctional facility (MCCF) initiated a comprehensive approach to address the needs of incarcerated individuals with a serious mental illness. This effort involved a collaborative process which included MCCF, Correctional Medical Care, BH/DD, Adult Probation, the Public Defenders Office, the District Attorney’s Office and numerous community service providers. The goals are centered on identifying people with serious mental illness, developing person centered plans with them and assisting with their community transitions. The result has been increased interaction between MCCF staff and community providers. It also has brought about better support planning for incarcerated individuals with better outcomes for people transitioning to the community.

This partnership with the criminal justice system has enabled all involved parties to come together regularly to address issues related to the support needs of individuals with SMI involved in the judicial system. Our partnership has allowed for some exciting accomplishments, including Behavioral Health Court, Justice Related Services (JRS), Forensic Coordinators at the community behavioral health centers, data sharing, peer support, education, and advocacy services.

Justice Related Services
(610) 279-6100
Montgomery County Emergency Services (MCES) has a long-standing history of forensic services, now known as Justice Related Services. The JRS staff work toward diversion through collaboration with police and the courts as a primary goal. They also work in the jail to develop and support re-entry plans, and also to assist in the assessment and planning process for individuals being supported in the community or considered for Behavioral Health Court.

Behavioral Health Court
(610) 992-7733
The Behavioral Health Court was established to more effectively address the needs of individuals with serious mental illness cycling through the court and prison system. The court represents a collaboration between the Court, Office of the Public Defender, Office of the District Attorney, Office of Adult Probation, Office of Mental Health, Montgomery County Correctional Facility, and community-based providers. Its mission is to enhance public safety and reduce recidivism of criminal defendants with serious mental illness by connecting them with community treatment services and supports. It also works to find appropriate dispositions to criminal charges by considering the defendant’s mental illness and the seriousness of the offense.