Frequently Asked Questions
Mental Health Court > Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Mental Health Court?

      Approximately 5 percent of the US population has a serious mental illness. The US Department of Justice reports, however, that about 16 percent of the population in prison or jail has a mental illness. Nearly half the inmates in prison with a mental illness were incarcerated for committing a nonviolent crime.

      The Arizona Superior Court Mental Health Court was founded in July 2004 to better meet the needs of persons with a serious mental illness who are also charged with felonies. Mental Health Court maintains a caseload of up to 100 defendants being served by the collaborative efforts of criminal justice, behavioral health and law enforcement professionals.

What are the goals of Mental Health Court?

  • To improve communication & collaboration between the court, community supervision agencies, law enforcement and behavioral health providers in partnership with program participants

  • To increase the efficiency of criminal case processing

  • To improve the likelihood of success of treatment interventions, agency placement & community supervision for program participants

  • To increase compliance with conditions of release and probation for program participants

  • To reinforce positive, pro-social choices for program participants

How does Mental Health Court Work?

      Mental Health Court is a non-diversionary specialty court. It takes place once a defendant is placed on probation. Defendants with probation eligible charges apply and (if accepted) are transferred to & then sentenced by the presiding Mental Health Court Judge. A set of particular conditions are assigned to the defendant along with a team of support professionals who assist and monitor their progress.

      Compliance hearings are held to monitor the defendant’s progress. Positive progress is rewarded with recognition and extended time between hearings to appear. Lack of positive progress is responded to with increased support, increased restrictions and shorter times between court appearances.

      After specific objectives are achieved by the defendant and substantial compliance has been observed by the court, participants become eligible for graduation.

Who is eligible for Mental Health Court?

Defendants who meet all these criteria:

  • Defendants who have been determined to be SMI (Seriously Mentally Ill) by the Regional  Behavioral Health Authority

  • Defendants who are receiving services with COPE, CODAC, Hope, Inc. or La Frontera or are willing to enroll in these agency services

  • Defendants who have not been charged with murder, sexual assault, child molestation and some domestic violence crimes

  • Defendants whose chemical dependency issues do not significantly eclipse their mental health diagnosis

For additional information, please contact the Criminal Justice Mental Health Clinical Coordinator:

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