Mental Health Therapeutic Court (MHTC)
Spokane County has implemented an expanded Mental Health Court. This was made available thanks to legislation enacted in 2005, RCW 82.14.460 which allowed for a "Mental Health Sales Tax" of one tenth of one-percent to be used for the operation of new or expanded therapeutic court programs and to provide new or expanded mental health treatment or chemical dependency services.
In the regular system, misdemeanant defendants often interact with multiple defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges. In the past, mentally ill offenders often spent unnecessary time in jail and, lacking access to mental health treatment services on release, became repeat offenders and cycled through the justice system again and again.
The Mental Health Therapeutic Court (MHTC) represents an effort to increase effective cooperation between two systems that have traditionally not worked closely together, the mental health treatment system and the criminal justice system.
The project has achieved the following outcomes for the mentally ill misdemeanant population:
- improved access to mental health treatment services
- improved well-being
- reduced recidivism
- improved public safety
The Mental Health Court Team consists of a Judge, Court Manager, Prosecuting Attorney, Defense Attorneys, Forensic Evaluator, Court Case Manager, Probation Officers and support staff. The team interacts regularly with treatment providers, Eastern State Hospital Legal Offender Unit, jail discharge staff and other important partners, including housing specialists and financial resource officers.
The Mental Health Therapeutic Court maintains the premise that crimes committed by mentally ill persons are not simply a law enforcement or criminal justice problem, but a public health problem.
Pre-Screening is required for referral to Mental Health Court.
The process is as follows:
1. Complete the Pre-Screening Form
. Only this form is to be used for referrals, and it is important that all information requested on the form be completed.
2. If possible, obtain a release of information
3. Fax both forms to the MHTC team at 477-2231.
4. The MHTC Team will research files and databases for mental health information on the defendant.
5. Probation will research files, NCIC, etc. for information on the defendant.
6. The referrals will be discussed at Tuesday morning staffing with the rest of the Team and the Judge.
7. At this staffing, the Team will determine whether to accept or reject the defendant requested to be transferred into MH Court based on the information assembled by MHC and the Probation Team.
8. The determination is recorded on a spreadsheet and then distributed to the Team.
9. If a defendant is accepted into the MH Court, the Court Clerk will schedule the defendant onto the MHC docket. An Order stating the acceptance will be filed with the court and notification is sent to the referring parties.
10. If a defendant is not accepted into the MH Court, an Order stating the reasons for rejection is filed with the court and notification is sent to the current Judge and referring parties.
Annual reports [PowerPoint or PDF format]
Directions and Contact Information
District/Municipal Mental Health Therapeutic Court
Broadway Center Building
Post Office Box 2352
721 N Jefferson, 2nd Floor
Spokane, WA, 99210-2352
Phone: (509) 477-2230
FAX: (509) 477-2231
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