First-of-its-kind court headed for Hub City
HATTIESBURG — Officials in Hattiesburg say Mississippi’s first behavioral health court will be located in the city, a newspaper reported.
The new program will specifically target the special needs of misdemeanor offenders, suffering with mental health issues, according to a report yesterday in The Hattiesburg American.
“We are finishing up the planning right now,” said Dorothea Van Buren, coordinator of the behavioral health court.
Van Buren said the program should begin this summer. The program was made possible through a $228,300 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The grant will fund the behavioral health court for two years.
The City Council accepted the award after hearing from officials with the partnering agencies, which include the Hattiesburg Police Department, the University of Southern Mississippi, Municipal Court and Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources.
The behavioral court will offer treatment and uniquely designed initiatives for those who come through the Municipal Court system.
“This will give individuals suffering from mental illness an opportunity to get much needed treatment, which in turn will significantly reduce their contact with the criminal justice system,” said Rita Porter, director of adult services at Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources.
Court officials told the City Council that many times minor criminals can get loss in the shuffle of the court system. Hattiesburg Police Chief Frazier Bolton said his officers often encounter nonviolent criminal offenders suffering with mental illnesses.
Van Buren said experts at Pine Belt Mental Health will evaluate each candidate for the program and determine whether offenders are in fact suffering from mental illnesses before they are accepted into the program by the Municipal Court judges.
“I’ll be making sure they stay on track with what the judge and the team advise them to do,” Van Buren said. “Once they complete the program there’s a possibility they’ll still be able to get their treatment from Pine Belt, and their charges will be dismissed from Municipal Court.”
To sign up for Mississippi Business Daily Updates, click here.
One Response to “First-of-its-kind court headed for Hub City”
FOLLOW THE MBJ ON TWITTERMy Tweets
Top Posts & Pages
- UMMC reaching out after death of high school football player
- UPDATED: Jackson agrees to repay HUD $1.5 million for Farish Street blunders
- Gov. Bryant intervening in same-sex couple's divorce
- Vicksburg mayor marries during lunch break
- City leaders vote against offering insurance to one adult, possibly same-sex partner
- School superintendent says he never intended to hire wife's uncle, but recommended him
- Mississippi River mayors announce 'seed money' for waterfront developments
- Biloxi baseball project still alive but may be held for 2015
- MDOT: Work on I-269 is on schedule, several phases at halfway point