Republished with permission.
Judge, Fairfield Municipal Treatment Alternative Court, Fairfield County, Ohio.
This is the thirteenth article from the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Mentally Ill in the Courts about effectively dealing with mentally ill offenders in the criminal justice system. This article highlights the Fairfield Municipal Treatment Alternative Court, in Butler County, Ohio, a program that has made a difference in the lives of many of the people our Advisory Committee is trying to reach.
Graduation day. A time of pride, joy, tears, anticipation, relief and perhaps a bit of apprehension. All of these emotions were experienced by the Fairfield Municipal Court Treatment Alternative Court (TAC) team at the recent first graduation ceremony. Our first graduate came to us hostile, uncommunicative, out of control, and unable to function in society due to her bipolar mood disorder. Two years later, she left the program confident, talkative, healthier, and reconnected to her family and her life.
The Butler County Mental Health Court Planning Task Force, a 20 member collaborative planning team, representing a broad range of local stakeholders, was formed for the purpose of designing a pretrial diversion program to serve mentally ill persons charged with misdemeanors in municipal court. The stated goals of the program are to divert these defendants into court-monitored treatment at the earliest stage of the criminal proceeding, to improve the clinical impact of the case processing on these defendants, to reduce recidivism among mentally ill defendants, to establish and maintain collaboration between the criminal justice and mental health systems, and to empower these defendants to lead more clinically stable, safe, and law-abiding lives in the community.
With these lofty goals in mind, the TAC program was commenced in the Fairfield Municipal Court on January 1, 2001. The program accepts offenders with Axis 1 conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizo-affective disorder, major recurring...