The Montgomery County Circuit Court has been selected by the National Center for State Courts as one of five courts around the U.S. to pilot a program to improve pre-adjudication diversion for …
The Montgomery County Circuit Court has been selected by the National Center for State Courts as one of five courts around the U.S. to pilot a program to improve pre-adjudication diversion for individuals with mental health and behavioral health needs. The selection was announced this week by 12th Circuit Presiding Judge Jason Lamb.
The Montgomery County Court is part of Missouri’s 12th Circuit Court, which also included Warren County and Audrain County.
Other courts selected for the pilot program are located in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The project will test recommendations from the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts Response to Mental Illness.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Montgomery County, the 12th Circuit and the state of Missouri,” said Judge Lamb. “Over the past few years, we have made great strides in our local court system’s responses to individuals with mental health and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. This project is the next step in that continuing effort. By improving our responses to individual circumstances, we increase the faith and confidence that all people can have in the criminal justice system.”
Examples of strategies that could be tested include implementing screening for disorders early in the criminal justice process, developing diversion strategies for individuals with mental health and co-occurring substance abuse disorders, establishing a specialized Treatment Court docket, and increasing access to mental health-related services for individuals during the criminal justice system process, including upon re-entry from incarceration.
These strategies align with action plans previously identified through the 12th Circuit’s Sequential Intercept Mapping (SIM) workshop. In October 2021, the 12th Circuit was the first circuit in the state to conduct a SIM workshop, convening approximately 50 stakeholders to aid in the identification of resources, gaps and barriers at different stages throughout the criminal justice system. Since then, five more workshops have been completed throughout the state, and another sixteen are scheduled over the next year.
“The Montgomery County justice system is already experiencing the benefit of having a close working relationship between our jail and the community behavioral health liaison provided by the Arthur Center,” said Associate Circuit Judge Nathan Carroz. “This relationship was fostered under the leadership of Judge Kelly Broniec and Sheriff Matthew Schoo and continues to benefit our community today. I am proud that Montgomery County has been a leader in this regard throughout our circuit and the state. We are looking forward to discovering ways in which we can expand upon the systems that we already have in place to help to provide long-term solutions to long-term issues.”
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