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Behavioral Health Referrals

At any given time, approximately 20% of the Wayne County Jail population is receiving treatment for mental illness or some other behavioral health problem. Many of these inmates are charged with non-violent offenses and pose little danger to society at large. Many of them have never received the kind of evaluation and treatment that might have prevented them from being charged with a crime in the first place. The Prosecutor's Office works closely with medical professionals in the jail and social workers from Wayne County Community Corrections to make sure that this group of inmates receives the treatment they need.

What is the history of the Behavioral Health Referral Program?

This program is sometimes referred to as "Mental Health Diversion" or the "Expedited Plea" Program. It was part of a 2002 grant agreement between this office and the Wayne County Mental Health Authority. This formal arrangement came to an end in 2014, unfortunately, due to lack of funds, but the Prosecutor remains committed to the goal of making sure that low-risk offenders receive the help they need.

What is the goal of this program?

Too often, the jail is utilized as a homeless shelter or psychiatric hospital of "last resort." When mentally ill, non-violent, low-level offenders are moved out of jail and into the community mental health system, they receive the treatment they need, and jail space is made available for truly dangerous offenders.

What defendants are eligible for this program?

Defendants who can benefit from mental health treatment and who are otherwise appropriate for community supervision are eligible; most cases involve charges of theft, fraud or controlled substances. These cases are resolved with plea agreements that make mandatory treatment a part of a sentence of probation.

What is the Mental Health Court?

Many of the plea agreements require participation in the Third Circuit's award-winning Mental Health Court. Participants in this program work closely with case managers to make sure that medical treatment is coordinated with housing and employment assistance. Regular status conferences before Judge Timothy M. Kenny make up the Mental Health Court "docket".