$354,131 grant to fund Mental Health Court

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Anderson County, the SC 10th Circuit Court, and their project partners have been awarded a $354,131 grant from the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, offered by the USDOJ through the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The funding will be used to establish the Anderson County Mental Health Court, which will be able to divert qualifying mentally ill offenders away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate treatment programs, thereby reserving prison space for violent criminals and others for whom incarceration is the only reasonable alternative.
“I am so excited to see this coming together”, said County Council District Two representative Glenn Davis. “Mental health disorders can affect people from all walks of life—especially our veterans. This is a much-needed resource that will provide real help and keep those with mental illness from becoming trapped in a never-ending cycle of entanglement with the criminal justice system.”
The primary program goal is to prepare, create, and implement a collaborative Mental Health Court program serving persons with diagnosed MHD or MHSUD who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. Data collected by the project partners indicate that more than 400 persons with a clinically-diagnosable mental illness pass through the Anderson County Detention Center each year. The program will not be available to those charged with felonies and/or any criminal conduct involving minors.
As an added program component, veterans will be given priority for program participation, in recognition of that group’s greater potential need for mental health services. According to a 2014 report prepared by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the rate of major depression is five times as high among soldiers as civilians; intermittent explosive disorder, which results in episodes of extreme anger, is six times as high; and post-traumatic stress disorder was nearly 15 times higher than among civilians.
The project will begin with a 12-month planning period as specified in the grant program’s regulations, followed by formal program implementation. The court will be based on existing operational infrastructure and supported by a Mental Health Court Program Coordinator working in tandem with a Program Clinician.
Project Partners:
Anderson County
SC 10th Circuit Court
SC 10th Circuit Solicitor’s Office
SC 10th Circuit Public Defender’s Office
Anderson-Oconee-Pickens Mental Health Center
Anderson County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
Upstate Warrior Solutions
Anderson County Veterans Affairs