Mentally ill offenders in Collin County can now be placed into a court-supervised outpatient treatment program instead of the traditional criminal justice process, according to Judge Jennifer Edgeworth of the 219th District Court in McKinney.
Edgeworth and County Court at Law Judge Lance Baxter are presiding over the new mental health court program. The program began accepting eligible felony and misdemeanor cases on Feb. 23.
“The adult mental health court is the direct result of collaboration with and support from our DA Greg Willis, Sheriff Jim Skinner, CSCD (Community Supervision and Corrections Department) Director Yoon Kim, Collin County commissioners and the criminal defense bar, Edgeworth said. “We believe this alternative to incarceration provides a better way to address certain mentally ill defendants,” she added.
Each participant was expected to spend nine to 12 months in the program and those who completed it successfully could get their cases dismissed and expunged from court records, the judge said.
The alternative program is open to people 17 and older with a mental health diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective, major depression, bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Edgeworth said.
“We are very excited to be able to offer a program that treats participants for their mental illness by providing them with access to medication, counseling, support, and accountability,” she said.
By Bob Wieland
For the full story, see the March 1 issue of The Wylie News.