Next Steps for Mental Health Court in Isabella County

A team of community leaders are continuing to work to create a Mental Health Court in Isabella County.

“Somebody’s convicted of a crime, they’re incarcerated, they sit in jail for way too long, they are released, they’re out for several months but then because they still have mental health issues that has to be treated, they commit similar type of offenses and they are incarcerated again and it’s like a revolving door,” said Stuart Black Isabella County Assistant Prosecutor and Probate Jude Candidate.

On Wednesday, Community Mental Health, Prosecutors, and law enforcement, came together to discuss next steps for a Mental Health Court in Isabella County, a program for those with mental illnesses to get treatment instead of getting jail time.

Julie Bayardo, Deputy Director for Services at Community Mental For Central Michigan is helping with the proposal.

“I think it’s a real opportunity to make a difference so we can stop the cycle of people with a severe mental illness going back to jail repeatedly,” said Bayardo.

They’re also considering a community care plan that will help first responders and law enforcement keep records of people with mental health issues to know how to treat them when 911 is called.

“As a police officer or a deputy responding to a call, having some sort of idea that there is an individual who suffers from mental illness would be beneficial because of the way we’re going to address that person,” said Lt. Kevin Dush, Isabella County Jail Administrator.

Next for the mental health court, waiting for a judge to be selected in November for the program to move forward. They hope to apply for state grants in the Spring.

“Make long term changes not just a short term Band-Aid,” said Black.