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Lane County Launches Mental Health Court

Flickr.com's Alachua County

A new court launched this week in Lane County.  It’ll divert people with mental illness away from the standard criminal justice system.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports: 

Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow says it’s taken about a year to get the mental health court going here, bringing her county in line with the rest of Oregon.   

Credit Brian Bull
Lane County DA Patty Perlow

She says authorities partnering with the mental health court will try to flag those who have committed minor, non-violent offenses. 

“Then we have a lawyer in the DA’s office who’ll review the charges and the case with the team to determine whether or not that person is appropriate for the mental health court.  And this seems like a more humane way to treat people who have an illness as opposed to who are intentionally committing crimes.” 

Judge IlisaRooke-Ley adds… 

“The best thing that we can do, is treat people fairly and with dignity who definitely deserve that help.” 

Qualified individuals will receive support services and help, such as rehab, therapy, or health care.

The mental health court is funded through several resources, including the Oregon Community Foundation.  It’ll be held every Tuesday at the Lane County DA’s office.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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