ECSO RECOMMENDS MENTAL HEALTH COURT
Pensacola, Fla — The Public Safety Coordinating Council of Escambia County yesterday recommended the County Commission allocate $387,169 toward the welfare of the mentally ill in the Escambia County jail rather than fund a full mental health court system. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office had requested the establishment of a Mental Health Court for the county through the Recovery Act: Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Local Solicitation Grant. The Sheriff’s Office had recommended to the recently revived Council that the County commit the full grant amount of 834,000.00 to the establishment of the court.
Sheriff David Morgan said of the recommendation, “We are, on one hand, disappointed at the overall outcome of the recommendation but also very optimistic that the County now has an outstanding opportunity to do something truly great.”
The goal is the creation of a court system with a high degree of sensitivity to the specialized needs of the mentally ill and to expedite such defendants through the criminal justice system without compromise. A mental health court could assure that mentally disabled defendants do not languish in jail because of their illness and, if in need of emergency psychiatric treatment, that they are able to obtain it without compromise of individual legal rights. The court would also reduce the contact of the mentally ill with criminal justice system by creating a bridge between the community and the jail system.
The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program allows units of local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime by improving the criminal justice system in response to these special needs.
The final recommendations will be presented to the Escambia County Commission at the BOCC Regular Meeting, Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 5:30 p.m.at the Governmental Complex. Public input will be heard at that time. Everyone is encouraged to attend.