An alternative to going to jail for people dealing with mental health problems

News

Scott County’s mental health court shows signs of success after a year of activity. 

However, it faces an uncertain future.

This is one of just three mental health courts in Iowa.

It’s a joint effort by several groups around the Quad Cities.

Their goal is help nonviolent misdemeanor and felony offenders with mental health problems and keep them from going back to jail. 

But they say they need more funding to keep going.

The Quad Cities Interfaith Restorative Justice Taskforce spearheaded the Scott County Mental Health Court one year ago. 

Now, coordinators say they’re seeing results. 

In their annual report meeting on Friday, leaders testified to participants’ success.

“He has stayed out of jail, he’s volunteering in the community, he is sober, he’s working on his addiction and he’s staying in his medication,” says Leslie Kilgannon about one participant. 

The court provides repeat offenders who suffer from mental illness with the medications they need. 

“When they’re in jail they get medications, but if they’re out they re-offend, because they are not connected to a mental health provider,” says Kilgannon.  

The program also provides participants with rehabilitation, educational opportunities, financial assistance and employment. 

“We’re set up to get them employed. Or at the very minimum, allow them to volunteer to be an asset to the community,” says Judge Mark Smith.  

On Friday the program received a $75,000 donation from Genesis Philanthropy. 

The grant will allow the court to continue into their second year, but organizers say they need state funding to have long term success. 

“The judge, the probation officers, the county attorney they’re all donating their time,” says Kilgannon. “They’re moving around, cooperating with each other to make this work.”

By helping people stay out of prison, coordinators say they’re saving the state money. 

“The cost savings alone by avoiding incarcerations is phenomenal. It costs $22,000 to $60,000 a year to incarcerate an individual in Iowa prisons,” says Smith.  

And helping end a cycle of re-incarceration while contributing to society. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories