Mental health courts were developed in response to the inability of traditional courts and jails to address a defendant’s underlying mental illness. In Oklahoma, 79% of female inmates and 46% of male inmates were diagnosed with a mental illness. Of these individuals, 57% were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, and out of those in Department of Corrections custody, 33% were imprisoned for drug and alcohol offenses and at least 50% were incarcerated for a crime related to substance abuse.
One of the major goals of mental health courts is to provide individuals with the help and services they need so that they won’t offend again. It also reduces the cost to maintain an inmate in prison – from $48 a day to approximately $15 to $25 a day given the extent of mental health/substance abuse services.
Some of the ways the courts do this is by linking offenders with serious mental illnesses to local behavioral health service providers, developing individual treatment plans that serve the offenders and the community, offering intensive supervision by the courts and implementing expectations for adherence to all conditions and requirements. The F&CS Osage Hills currently services 77 clients.
In conclusion, the programs rendered by F&CS staff reduces incarceration/recidivism and offers therapeutic approaches. For example, when the client is accessed by the courts, they have the option to be released from jail to go inpatient for stabilization before being moved to outpatient. This approach increases program engagement and success rates. Because of F&CS’ relationship with other community partners, the whole person is treated – not just the mental health or substance symptoms.
As part of an ongoing series, we will share success stories of clients who’ve overcome the odds and mirrors F&CS staff’s effectiveness in recovery.