The Harris County Mental Health Court aims to effectively address the underlying clinical component of delinquent behavior in mentally ill juvenile offenders, while emphasizing public safety and personal accountability. Additionally, by fostering the use of community based treatment alternatives, the Court hopes to play an integral role in the development of community mental health resources. The ready availability and accessibility of community services will ultimately give families an alternative to relying on the juvenile justice system for treatment, a practice which can result in the criminalization of mentally ill juveniles.
- Youth with Mental Health Diagnosis
- Age 10-17 years
- Misdemeanor or Felony Offense
- Family willingness to participate in an intensive in-home program
- Sex Offenders
- Serious Drug Problems
- Mental Retardation
- Significant Gang Involvement
- An appropriate case is identified and a comprehensive psychological assessment is conducted by the Mental Health Court Psychologist resulting in an individualized treatment plan.
- The cases are then reviewed by the Mental Health Court team (Judge, Court Case Manager, Psychologist, District Attorney, Defense Attorney).
- If accepted, the case is transferred from the originating court into the Mental Health Court and docketed for the initial court hearing to discuss therapeutic and supervision requirements.
- During the initial court hearing, the youth and family discuss the treatment plan with the Mental Health Court team and a pre-determined treatment provider.
- The youth and family must participate in the Mental Health Court for a minimum of six months. Review hearings are scheduled a minimum of once a month, but can be scheduled as needed depending on treatment and compliance needs. Youth are supervised closely while in Mental Health Court; a probation officer works with the treatment provider to ensure weekly contact and monitoring.
- Youth who successfully complete the Mental Health Court program are placed in a Deferred Prosecution status. If the youth completes the Deferred Prosecution term without engaging in delinquent conduct the original charge is dismissed.