December 24, 2012
By Stephanie West, City Hall Reporter
Under the City's new mental health initiative, Court-based Intervention and Resource Teams in each borough will collect and quickly relay information on defendants’ mental health care needs, risk of flight and risk of re-offense to the court-based teams to recommend appropriate judicial responses for each defendant’s specific risks and mental health needs.
“If more New Yorkers who need mental health care and community support can be helped to get their lives on track when they’ve run afoul of the law, we will all be better off,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “
The goal is to have City agencies, the courts and community-based providers working together to keep low-to moderate-risk defendants with mental health needs out of jail whenever possible. Its hoped that the mentally ill will be able to receive appropriate care in the least restrictive setting sooner, and should have far fewer re-arrests after their release.
The court-based Intervention and Resource Teams will give judges recommendations – based on verified data – for better managing mentally ill people who become involved with the court system. Defendants with a significant mental health issue who do not pose a substantial risk of re-arrest or failure to appear will be recommended for release to community-based supervision and services while their cases are pending in court. These services will be provided by experienced groups who will report to the court on their clients’ progress. A second defendant group, those who do not pose a substantial risk of being re-arrested but pose a high risk of not appearing in court, will be eligible for alternatives to incarceration where they can get needed services and care. However, offenders who pose a high risk of flight and re-arrest will not be eligible for diversion.