Collin County Court Thursday – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth launches new mental health program

Collin County has launched a new specialty court to transition mental patients to a court-supervised outpatient treatment program instead of the traditional criminal justice process.

The program combines mental health treatment with frequent court attendance, home visits, case management, counseling and community support services.

The special court was funded by a grant from Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office last fall and is open to people age 17 and older with a mental health diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, major depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The initial target is to bring 40 eligible cases into the alternative program. The court will begin accepting eligible misdemeanor and misdemeanor cases on February 23.

219th District Court Judge Jennifer Edworth presides over the program with Act 3 County Court Judge Lance Baxter.

“Collin County continues to make great strides in serving those with mental health issues. We are proud of the creation of the new Diversion Court for Crimes Involving People with Mental Illness and appreciate another opportunity within the criminal justice system to help those suffering from mental health issues. Give them the services they need to stay calm. LifePath Systems Vice President Clinical Officer Danielle Snead.

The jury consisted of program coordinator Donald Bell, case manager Michelle Garcia, specialist Molly Craft and defense attorney Kim Lasseter.

The Special Court team works with community partners such as LifePath Systems to provide mental health treatment to offenders, protect the community and reduce the need for hospital incarceration and incarceration.

Officials estimate that the diversion program, described as an “intensive community control model,” will last 9-12 months for each participant, and those who successfully complete it can have their cases dismissed and removed from court records.

The program compliments the Collin County Mental Health Managed Counseling Program, led by Alice Ferguson, one of the few county advocacy programs in Texas.

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