Thursday, March 6, 2003

Counties' efforts for mentally ill studied



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Court programs in Butler and Clermont counties that offer treatment instead of jail for the mentally ill convicted of crimes has attracted the attention of the National Association of Counties.

Officials from the association came to the Tristate to observe mental health courts in Clermont County Wednesday and Butler County today.

In Butler County, the group will visit the Therapeutic Alternative Court, which operates in Fairfield Municipal Court and handles cases of mentally ill people convicted of misdemeanors.

The group also will visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Illness Court, which operates in Butler County Common Pleas Court. It deals with mentally ill felons who have substance abuse problems.

Ken Mayfield, president of the national group, thinks programs that divert the nonviolent mentally ill from county jails result in better treatment, safer conditions and lower costs.

After gathering information about some mental health courts nationwide, the association will seek federal funding to expand those programs to other counties.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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