Mental Health Court

The Jackson County Mental Health Court held its first court session in July 2008. This specialty court is devoted to improving public safety, reducing recidivism, and enhancing the quality of life among mentally ill defendants.

The Mental Health Court accepts misdemeanor and felony offenses. Judge Klaeren serves as both a District and Circuit Court Judge. This means Judge Klaeren is able to preside over felony cases that are accepted into the Mental Health Court. The only restriction is that possible incarceration cannot exceed 5 years. Other requirements for the Mental Health Court include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Must be county resident.
  • Mental illness must be a component of the crime for which the individual is charged.
  • Individual must have preexisting mental illness diagnosis.

Admittance


Defendants seek admittance through an application process. Anyone may complete an application on the defendants behalf (family members, arresting officer, jail personnel). Regardless of who completes the application, the defendant must agree to participate. If the defendant doesn't agree, he/she is not considered for the program.

Mental Assessment


If the individual meets the above requirements, and is willing to participate, a formal mental assessment is conducted. An assessment report is generated and reviewed by a "Treatment Team." The Treatment Team is comprised of the judge, prosecuting attorney, representative defense attorney, Allegiance Hospital representative, 2 Lifeway's representatives, City police representative, social worker, District and Circuit Court probation officers and program coordinator. The Treatment Team meets biweekly to discuss new applications and current defendants.


Sentencing & Probation


Once sentenced, the defendant is placed on a term of probation with specific requirements. Requirement examples include:
  • Following treatment plans
  • Taking medication as prescribed
  • Refraining from the use of drugs and alcohol
  • Attending biweekly review hearings
  • And anything else deemed necessary by Judge Klaeren