- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - A new Monroe County mental health court is aimed at keeping people mentally stable and out of trouble and the community safe, officials said.

The new court also should save tax dollars, county prosecutor Chris Gaal said at a news conference Friday.

Changes to Indiana’s criminal code encourage communities to offer treatment and rehabilitation services to low-level offenders through probation and community corrections programs, and state funding will help pay for the Monroe County pilot program, The Herald-Times reported (http://bit.ly/Zzmpbc ).

The county community corrections program received a $64,747 state grant to pay for a full-time probation officer and case manager to handle the mental health court caseload. Two local agencies, Centerstone and Amethyst House, received grants of $83,201 and $25,000, respectively, to provide services to people who will go through the court. An additional $11,799 pays for computer software that will help measure the project’s results.

The program will serve offenders with mental health disorders, substance abuse issues, traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports 56 percent of prison inmates have mental health issues, Gaal said.

Monroe Circuit Judge Ken Todd said the court will establish rewards and consequences for the people it serves.

“Some of this will involve us trying to apply what we’ve learned from the drug treatment court. To some extent, we’ll be learning as we go along,” said Todd, who helped establish the county’s drug court in 1999.

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Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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