Trish Breeding - Director
525 N University Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
The Rutherford Count Recovery Court has added a new Mental Health Court Program. Mental Health Court participants will include felons and misdemeanants who are severely and persistently mentally ill. However, not all mentally ill felony and/or misdemeanor offenders will qualify for Mental Health Court. Participants must be capable of, and willing to comply with the program requirements. Studies have consistently shown that persons suffering from a serious or persistent mental illness do not respond well to the traditional sanctions imposed in the criminal justice system. Consequently, this population has typically been subjected to longer periods of incarceration and has experienced higher rates recidivism. In an effort to overcome these costly problems, and reduce recidivism, persons from the mental health population who are charged with less serious offenses and pose less danger to themselves and others are now being diverted to the Mental Health Court.
The Mental Health Court functions as a team, with the Judge as the central figure, in which the Public Defender, District Attorney, Mental Health Court Director, Case Manager, Probation Officer, Law Enforcement and other members of the treatment team work to assist mentally ill offenders manage their illness, become law-abiding and improve the quality of their lives. Treatment in the Mental Health Court may include but not be limited to, taking medication, going to individual or group therapy, substance abuse counseling, weekly visits with the case manager and/or probation officer, weekly appearances in court, classes that can include intensive outpatient services, vocational training and/or placement, random drug testing up to seven days a week, housing support, assistance in accessing public benefits, attendance in sobriety self-help groups, and more. Participants are evaluated weekly for progress, which is reported to the Judge. This program will work in tandem with other local mental health and charitable service agencies including Volunteer Behavior Health, Mental Health Cooperative, Greenhouse Ministries and many more. Participants are expected to show improvement in their condition to advance through the program phases while adhering to their clinical treatment plan. The average duration of the program is 12 months.
The Eligibility Criteria includes the following:
• Must be a non-violent offender accused of C, D, and E felonies or misdemeanor offenses under Tennessee Law.
• Must have a primary Axis I diagnosis including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and severe, chronic depression, sometimes with psychosis.
• Must be a resident of Rutherford or Cannon County.
• Offender must voluntarily agree to participate.
• Must have a potential agreement among sentencing judge, District Attorney’s office and Counsel for the accused that Mental Health Court would be an appropriate option.
• Cannot have a hold or pending criminal charge from another jurisdiction.