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posted: 1/20/2014 1:12 PM

McHenry Mental Health Court to host graduation ceremony

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Submitted by McHenry County Mental Health Court

The 22nd Judicial Circuit of McHenry County Mental Health Court will host its 10th graduation ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, in Courtroom 204 at McHenry County Government Center, 2200 N. Seminary Ave. in Woodstock. Guests are required to use the government center's east entrance.

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The ceremony includes a presentation of graduation certificates by the circuit judge, Honorable Charles P. Weech.

Mental health courts are integral pieces of the criminal justice system as research confirms that 65 percent of individuals incarcerated in local jails and prisons meet criteria for substance use disorder and 17 percent of all adults booked into jails are diagnosed with a serious mental illness.

Furthermore, 72 percent of adults with serious mental illness in jail also had co-occurring substance use disorders, according to the Council of State Governments, 2013.

The 22nd Judicial Circuit mental health court is a voluntary program designed to serve defendants who are struggling with mental illness and are currently involved in the criminal justice system of McHenry County. In lieu of traditional punishment, the court diverts defendants with serious mental illness away from the criminal justice system by offering alternatives, including intensive judicial oversight, community supervision and treatment.

Its mission is to enhance public safety and promote self-sufficiency of court involved individuals engaged in recovery of mental illness through intensive judicial/community based treatment and support services.

Furthermore, findings from a Rand Corporation study (2007) suggest that mental health courts result in a net savings to taxpayers, and over a longer time frame these programs may actually result in net savings to government to the extent that participation is associated with reductions in criminal recidivism and utilization of the most expensive sorts of mental health treatment such as hospitalization and corrections.

The mental health court would not be possible without the McHenry County Board, 22nd Judicial Circuit Office of Court Administration, McHenry County Court and Probation Services, McHenry County Mental Health Board, McHenry County State's Attorney's Office, McHenry County Public Defender's Office, McHenry County Sheriff's Office and various community-based mental health service providers.

For questions pertaining to the Mental Health Court, call Scott Block at (815) 334-4913.

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