Mental Health Court (Pinellas)

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To address the problem of untreated mental illness and criminalization of the mentally ill, Pinellas County applied for and was awarded a Bureau of Justice Administration grant to create a Mental Health Court.

The goals of this court are to:

  • Reduce the number of persons with mental illness who repeatedly enter the criminal justice system.
  • Divert participants to appropriate, effective mental health and supportive services at the earliest possible stage.
  • Prevent the continued jailing and further criminal justice involvement of these identified persons with serious mental illness.
  • Decrease taxpayers’ cost of frequent incarceration.
  • Provide an efficient, cost-effective solution.
  • Reduce criminal recidivism.
  • Reduce disparities in mental health care for racial and ethnic minorities by engaging people who represent the diversity of the community.
  • Promote healthier, safer communities.
  • Improve and sustain the quality of life for persons with mental illnesses.

The Mental Health Court targets third degree non-violent felonies and select misdemeanor cases. Applications are screened by the State Attorney’s Office based on the nature of the charge, approval of the victim (if any), and likeliness for success.

The program is an intense program with constant one-on-one supervision with mental health professionals and frequent court appearances. The traditional length of the program is up to two years, with the possibility for early termination upon successful completion of court sanctions.

Most services are no cost or low cost for those individuals who cannot afford private treatment. Participants are engaged in supportive services to improve and sustain their quality of life. Mental Health Court participation is voluntary.

This court is a collaborated effort between the Courts, the State Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, Directions for Living, Suncoast Center, and Pinellas County.

If you are interested in applying for or learning more about the Pinellas County Mental Health Court, please contact the State Attorney’s Mental Health Court Coordinator at (727) 464-6116.