Legal Blog

Mental Health Court Offers Alternatives to Jail

14 October 2016 | Criminal Defense,  Legal Blog,  

Attorney Sean Hessler

Written by
Sean Hessler

14 October 2016

Criminal Defense,  Legal Blog,  

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The Marion County Jail is over capacity, housing at least 900 inmates. More than one-third of these individuals suffer from mental health issues, according to WFYI Indianapolis. In some situations, the inmates’ mental health is closely linked to the crimes that led to their incarceration. Whether the offender is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction or has been diagnosed with another serious condition like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, Marion County officials recognize that they need real treatment in addition to their punishment.

While inmates can receive basic treatment, including medications during their incarceration through the Indiana criminal court process, the mental health care, and rehabilitation they receive behind bars is not equal to what they need or the care they could receive at a specialized facility. That is why Marion County now uses an alternative mental health court to better address offenses committed by people with mental illnesses.

If you or a loved one have a diagnosed mental condition and are facing criminal charges, contact Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer Sean Hessler at (317) 886-8800.

Marion County’s Behavioral Health Court

Through the Marion County Behavior Health Court, eligible individuals who have a mental illness can choose to take their case through an alternative court system headed by Judge Barbara Crawford. By going through this process, offenders have the opportunity to receive better care and treatment after completing all or a portion of their sentences. They are assigned a recovery coach and must work through five phases that include:

  • Required court appearances
  • Therapy
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • Drug screening
  • Other activities necessary to long-term changes and rehabilitation

Recovery coaches are particularly crucial for individuals who may feel overwhelmed by their disorders or treatment. These professionals help enrollees transition from jail, back into their communities, while still focusing on their recovery. The coaches get to know the enrollees and their families, remind them to take their medications, and may attend court appearances as well as medical appointments with them.

During the mental health court process, which can take 1 to 3 years, enrollees receive more than help with treatment. They also gain resources to continue their education, such as earning a high school degree or obtain employment through utilizing a job coach. Marion County hopes to reduce recidivism by treating offenders’ mental illnesses and helping them gain skills to provide for themselves.

Work with an Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are suffering from a mental illness and are facing a criminal conviction, you need an attorney who understands how to fight for you to receive treatment in addition to the least harsh punishment possible under the law. Indianapolis criminal defense attorney Sean Hessler knows that you may not receive the care you need if you go through the regular Indianapolis criminal justice system. He will work to have your case go through the Marion County behavioral health court so that your penalty includes rehabilitation and treatment instead of just jail time.

For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case and for more information about the Marion County mental health court, contact Hessler Law at (317) 886-8800.