Mental Health & Drug Courts Receive Funding

The Portage County Specialized Dockets for mental health and substance use disorders each received a $30,000 grant from Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services through the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.

Specialized dockets are particular sessions of court that offer a therapeutically oriented judicial approach to providing court supervision and appropriate treatment to individuals. Certified by the Ohio Supreme Court, specialized dockets recognize that offenders with mental illness, substance abuse, and trauma related injuries pose a special challenge within the criminal justice system.

In Portage County, the STAR (Successful Treatment and Recovery) Court operates in the Municipal Court with Honorable Kevin Poland presiding. The Honorable Becky Doherty is the presiding judge of the HOPE (Help, Opportunity, and Progress through Education) Court which operates in the Court of Common Pleas.

“These courts are important because they recognize that people with mental illness, substance use issues, and those who have experienced trauma have challenges that are best met through treatment in a court-monitored, community- based program instead of incarceration,” commented John Garrity, PhD, executive director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County. “The goal is to not only reduce repeat offenses but to also help individuals achieve productive lives.”

Substance use disorder or mental illness must be a contributing factor to the individual being charged in order for them to be considered for the specialized docket and have no history of serious or repetitive violence. Participants are expected to obtain employment, have stable housing, pay court costs, and complete their mental health and/or substance use treatment goals prior to release.

The funds will help support behavioral health treatment for the participants, drug screens, medications, emergency basic needs, job training, and support the specialized docket staff.

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The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County funds services for Portage County residents through its network of agencies. Services help families, adults, teens and children with mental illness, depression, addictions, in crisis and at risk for suicide.

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