Pennsylvania’s first mental health court has shown promising results, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. About 84 percent of people served by the Allegheny County Mental Health Court have stayed out of trouble with the law while under the court’s supervision. From mid-2001 through last June, 27 of 311 people under the court’s jurisdiction were arrested on new charges, said Amy Kroll, the county director of forensic services. Twenty-two others were taken into custody for probation or parole violations.
Officials believe those results are encouraging as many areas struggle with rising inmate populations. Many inmates cycle in and out of incarceration at significant cost to taxpayers. State officials and the Council of State Governments will coordinate studies of the fiscal impact of programs aime at the mentally ill. County officials began developing the programs “because we realized jails and prisons are not good places for people in terms of their health or prospects for rehabilitation,” said Patricia Valentine of the Office of Behavioral Health. The mental health court, a collaboration involving the courts, the public defender’s and district attorney’s offices, and the county Department of Human Services, has an annual budget of about $700,000 from foundations and public sources.