- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) - In an effort to help people with mental health issues get treatment instead of jail time the Benton County is starting a Mental Health Court.

The Tri-City Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1V6IgQP ) that the court selected its first participant last week. Up to 20 offenders could be approved by the first court date in early April, and officials estimate that number could reach 75 by summer 2017.

Participants in the program can have their criminal charges dismissed or probation terms shortened if they complete the one- to two-year program.

Benton County’s court isn’t new. The first mental health court in the state began in King County 16 years ago and there are now 13 programs across the state.

Benton’s program is funded by the public safety sales tax.

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Information from: Tri-City Herald, https://www.tri-cityherald.com


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