Hattiesburg, Miss., will get that state’s first mental health court under a $228,000 federal Bureau of Justice Assistance grant, reports the Hattiesburg American. The program, set to begin this summer, will target the special needs of misdemeanor offenders suffering from mental health issues who find themselves in the Municipal Court system. The program will be involve coordination by the Hattiesburg Police Department, the University of Southern Mississippi, Municipal Court and Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources.
Similar to drug court, the behavioral court will offer problem-solving treatment and uniquely designed initiatives for criminals by providing linkages to mental health treatment. Court officials said mentally troubled minor criminals can get lost in the criminal justice system. Hattiesburg Police Chief Frazier Bolton said his officers often encounter non-violent criminal offenders suffering with mental illnesses. “These individuals usually pass through the criminal justice system without receiving proper treatment,” Bolton said.