Graphic by Owensboro Times
Daviess County Mental Health Court received an additional $77,000 from the Kentucky Department of Corrections to fund a second year for the newly established courts system branch.
Due to COVID-19 and uncertainty surrounding the DOCs budget, Mental Health Courts allocated funding was unchanged from last year.
Mental Health Court is designed to assist those with genuine mental health issues rather than continue putting them in jail. Each case differs depending on the individual, but stopping the cycle of recidivism for individuals who qualify is the ultimate goal. Officials with Mental Health Court can help individuals get on the correct medication, find employment and housing, and seek treatment.
Circuit Court Judge Lisa Payne Jones said the first year of Mental Health Court went well, adding that the Daviess Countys division operated differently than other Mental Health Courts across the nation.
We use Rachel Pate as a clearinghouse for any case involving a mental health component. Its not just criminal cases, Jones said. If theres a guardianship situation, or if the police department finds someone in the street, they call Rachel. She coordinates with a number of organizations and helps facilitate that communication between those organizations and the courts.
Jones said Daviess County asked for more funding for Mental Health Court this year, but due to budget constraints the DOC didnt increase funding for any court systems in Kentucky. Still, Jones said there are plans to expand services for Mental Health Court by hiring an assistant to work for Pate.
One of the most critical aspects of Mental Health Court is accountability, Jones said. Having individuals show up to court to see the judge causes a black robe effect that pushes individuals to take care of themselves and stay on top of their progress.
Unfortunately, we have lost touch with a couple of them because we werent able to reach out and provide [the same services], she said. That accountability piece was lost.
However, Jones and Pate started seeing individuals in person again last Wednesday. Around eight appeared in front of the judge, while three who are housed in mental health facilities were contacted as well. Jones said they will continue to see more people as the courts system continues to reopen.
Pates strong connections with regional courts systems, combined with the fact that so many out-of-county patients are treated at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, has led District and Circuit Courts in surrounding counties to offer funding to support Daviess Countys Mental Health Court, Jones said.
That funding will allow Jones and Pate to continue helping individuals who suffer from mental health issues but who dont belong in jail.
The more we can follow up with people, the more we can help them stay on track, she said.
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Mental Health Court receives funding for second year - The Owensboro Times
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