Mental Health Court Cuts Spending and Reduces Crime

A program to treat, rather than jail, the mentally ill in Colorado has saved the county and state $600,000.
by | February 24, 2011 AT 2:00 PM

In Colorado, a one-year old program has found a way to cut government spending and reduce repeat offenders: It's called Mental Health Court. When a mentally ill person is charged with a felony -- unless it was a violent or sexual crime -- the 18th Judicial District offers them the chance to receive treatment under court supervision, according to the Denver Post. In the program's first year, 30 people participated, $600,000 was saved and none of the participants have reoffended. The district teamed up with the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network to implement the system, which resembles a typical courtroom except for the presence of health personnel and applause for a person's sobriety. The program is funded by federal, state and private grants. The idea of treating -- rather than locking up -- mentally ill offenders to save money and reduce crime is far from innovative; but it's just beginning to be put into practice. Here's a list of all the Mental Health Courts around the nation.