Behavioral Health Court Docket ‘A Growing Experience’

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) — Montgomery County’s Behavioral Health Record, a special program for a small group of defendants with mental health issues, marked its first graduation recently with cupcakes, congratulatory banners and the dismissal of criminal charges.

“They can go out and be successful,” Commonwealth attorney Mary Pettitt told the two graduates who attended the ceremony, held in a General District courtroom. Two other people graduated but did not attend the ceremony, Pettitt said.

Launched last year, the Behavioral Health Docket targets a carefully selected set of people who have been charged with misdemeanors and who have mental health issues that are severe enough to disrupt their lives, but not so severe that they are held legally responsible for their actions. . In a process similar to that used by drug courts in Montgomery County and elsewhere, defendants on the behavioral health record meet twice a month with a judge and a group that includes treatment providers. Together, they review the issues defendants are facing and how they are being treated, whether it is health care, housing, employment, or other issues.

The goal of the intensive scrutiny is “to get them out of the situation that put them on the record in the first place,” said Judge Gino Williams, who oversees the special court.

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