The Mental Health Court program targets high risk/needs felony clients with serious mental health needs and is designed for use by the district court of Harris County as a sentencing alternative to incarceration. The Mental Health Court program follows a progressive sanctions model that involves frequent interactions between the judge and the client, and includes a full treatment team that includes the judge, specially assigned prosecutors and defense attorneys, the community supervision officers (CSO) and treatment providers. The assigned judge is immediately responsive to problems and issues officers have with clients, in line with the research that indicates that quick response to violations is essential. The program addresses violations of clients swiftly and appropriately using a system of graduated sanctions and incentives. Treatment providers and HCCSCD CSOs utilize a cognitive behavioral component where applicable, addressing criminogenic needs, including substance abuse if present. The length of stay varies greatly for mental health court, but typically clients are maintained for the duration of their placement.
- Felony level offense
- Moderate to High risk on TRAS
- Serious mental health issue (Psychotic, Bipolar, Major Depressive Disorders)
- Global Assessment Functioning (GAF) level of 50 or below at intake
- Significant barriers to less restrictive settings including recent suicide attempts, hospitalizations, or non-compliance with treatment/medication
- History of non-compliance with supervision
- Minimum of 2 years on supervision
- Participating in intensive MH program (e.g., New Start, ACT, FACT, VA)
* Mental Health Court referrals will need to be staffed with MH Court staff prior to making the recommendation.