Tony, a schizophrenic in Hawaii, has defrauded the state of welfare benefits and committed credit card fraud. Instead of completing a prison sentence, reports the Honolulu Advertiser, Tony was taken out of prison last month and now lives in a one-bedroom Honolulu apartment as the first participant in a pilot program to establish the state’s first Mental Health Court. If he graduates after a year of intensive monitoring and treatment, he won’t have to serve any prison time.
If the pilot program succeeds, officials believe as many as a couple of hundred mentally ill people could end up being diverted from jails and prison and into treatment. The two-year pilot program is financed by $231,000 in federal money and $57,750 in matching money. The pilot program was expected to have about 30 participants. About 100 mental health courts have been set up around the nation.