New MO Specialty Court Targets Mental Illness, Substance Abuse


A new “problem-solving court” is the St. Louis area seeks to help defendants with mental illness and substance abuse problems, reports the city’s Post-Dispatch. The program, in St. Charles, Lincoln and Pike counties, will be patterned on drug courts, which offer alternatives such as treatment instead of imprisonment for defendants. The new program is designed for those diagnosed with both mental illness and substance abuse problems.

Problem-solving courts have grown in popularity since the first drug court began in Florida in 1989. Participants are matched with agencies that provide treatment services, and they also report to court. If they do not meet goals, they can receive swift punishment from the court, including brief stays in jail. Eric J. Miller, associate professor of law at St. Louis University, said the political left and right have offered support. “The idea is an intriguing amalgamation of rehabilitation and responsibility,” he said

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