Mental Health Court
Effective on December 1, 2015 a new, unified Mental Health Court now handles both the Superior Court and the Court of Common Pleas caseloads jointly. This unified court is overseen by the Superior Court.
The unification provides for more efficient use of court resources as well as those of our agency partners such as Probation and Parole and the Treatment Access Center (TASC). But, most importantly, Superior Court President Judge Jan R. Jurden stressed that the change will not mean a reduction in the availability of services to the Mental Health Court's participants. More
In April 2008, the Superior Court instituted our Mental Health Court. Mental Health Court is the first felony mental health court in Delaware.
This collaborative mental health court project is designed to identify persons involved in the criminal justice system as a result of serious mental health issues.
It provides them with intensive services and support to guide them to recovery and self sufficiency as an alternative to repeated incarceration for violations of probation or commission of new offenses.
The Court strives to provide necessary wrap-around services to reduce the number of days in prison and psychiatric hospitals for individuals with mental health issues, thereby reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and achieving cost savings.
The collaborative partnership coordinates the efforts of the Superior Court, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Public Defender, the Office of Probation and Parole, the Department of Correction and the Treatment Access Center (TASC). Each agency's participation is critical to the success of the program.
Mental Health Court is a voluntary program for criminally involved individuals with serious mental illness. Defendants must have an Axis I Mental Disorder as defined by the DSM IV TR. The program accepts clients who have co-occurring diagnoses of mental health and substance abuse disorders where the mental health disorder is primary.
Not eligible for the program are defendants charged with sex offenses, homicide, domestic violence, weapons offenses, or offenses involving serious bodily injury.
National Criminal Justice/Mental Health Initiative
The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center selected Delaware as one of four states to participate in the national project. The project's mission is to improve responses to people with mental illnesses who are involved in the justice system. Funding and technical assistance will be provided by two nonprofits, the CSG Justice Center and the National GAINS Center. Over the next year, the statewide task force will examine ways to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses engaged with the criminal
Judge Jan R. Jurden was the Superior Court representative to Delaware's Task Force* for the Chief Justices' Criminal Justice/Mental Health Leadership Initiative.
*The Delaware Supreme Court Task Force on Mental Health will receive funding and technical assistance from the CSG Justice Center and National GAINS, two nonprofit organizations coordinating the initiative. The task force members will also participate in a CSG Justice Center-convened policy forum with their counterparts from the other three states.