Mental Health Courts
Mental health courts, modeled after drug courts was first implemented in Anchorage, Alaska and Broward County, Florida. The America’s Law Enforcement and Mental Health Project Act (2000) funded 23 demonstration mental health court projects in 2002 and 14 in 2003. By 2004 there were 100+ mental health courts also know as specialty courts across the country.
Mental health courts are adult criminal specialty courts with a separate docket dedicated to the diversion of non-violent pretrial felony and misdemeanor offenders with mental illness from the criminal justice system to appropriate community treatment services and resources. The program is voluntary and the individual’s charges are held in abeyance until the individual completes their treatment course as directed by the court.
Charleston/Dorchester, Columbia Area, and Greenville community mental health centers have partnered with their local county government to implement and sustain mental health courts in their local jurisdictions (see Mental Health Court Information by Counties for information specific to each court).