Michigan’s Mental Health Courts Depending On Community Based Programs Like AA Meetings

More and more mental health courts are popping up. It is wonderful they are trying to help the mentally ill. Yet the courts should not be mandating Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, where they are often told not to take there meds and make disparaging remarks about the mental health field.AA has no training to deal with paranoid schizophrenics or suicidal people.

Mental Health Court

Michigan’s treatment of mentally ill people has disgraced the state, as hundreds of thousands have gone without treatment and ended up in county jails and state prisons, warehoused at a cost to taxpayers of $35,000 a year each.

It’s a common and tragic story: Mentally ill defendants — often abusing drugs — cycle through the criminal justice system repeatedly for petty offenses until they are slapped with lengthy prison sentences as repeat offenders.

Since 2008, however, eight mental health court pilot programs, now serving nearly 700 people a year, have given hope to mentally ill offenders like Angela DeCant, 35; Henry Smith, 47; and Steven Townsend, 52. Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny and others who preside over the courts have the option of sentencing them to 18 months of intensely supervised probation and treatment.

Working with community-based nonprofits like Detroit Central City Community Mental Health, participants get medications, attend relapse prevention classes and group therapy, meet with psychiatrists, undergo residential treatment, and talk with job and housing specialists to get their lives on track.

The pilot courts work at a fraction of the cost of incarceration. But they will end Sept. 30, when the annual $1.65-million federal grant expires, unless the governor and state Legislature find another way to pay for them.

For starters, Gov. Rick Snyder has put $1 million for the mental health courts in his 2013 budget, but legislators must do even better. With county jails and state prisons becoming Michigan’s largest mental health institutions, this is no time to end a rare success story.

Salvaging lives
Over the last two decades, mental health care in Michigan has eroded, leaving hundreds of thousands without treatment and pushing many of them into county jails and state prisons.

http://www.freep.com/article/20120304/OPINION02/203040478/SALVAGING-LIVES-SAVING-MONEY-Eight-pilot-courts-that-divert-mentally-ill-offenders-from-prison-to-treatment-are-showing-promising-results-It-s-time-to-expand-the-experiment-?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

Mental Health Court Mandates Schizophrenics And Bipolar Suicidal Offenders To Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

This is confirmation of the growing number of Mental Health Courts and Drug Courts that are sending their seriously mentally ill, suicidal offenders to a Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meeting near you! Mandating the mentally ill patients to 12 step programs that dont like therapists and tell many participants not to take their meds. Wow,that sounds like a swell idea! Let’s not forget how proud AA/NA/CA is that they are forever non-professionals. AA likes to call their unique demographics that are made up of violent felons, sexual predators, serial rapists, murders and the seriously mentally ill ( many whom are suicidal), a wonderful place to encourage teenagers and younger minors to come join!

AA is famous for stating that the meetings are just a microcosm of society. Let me tell you-they are completely WRONG!!!!!! Actually AA meetings are a microcosm of AA/NA period, and the people who run them around the country. AA/NA meetings are a dangerous place for minors and other vulnerable people.

Limitations Of 12 Step Programs

12 Step programs designed for people whose problems are primarily substance abuse are generally not recommended for people who also have a mental illness. These programs tend to be confrontive and coercive and most people with severe mental illnesses are too fragile to benefit from them. Heavy confrontation, intense emotional jolting, and discouragement of the use of medications tend to be detrimental. These treatments may produce levels of stress that exacerbate symptoms or cause relapse.

An afternoon in the biweekly mental-health courtroom of Washington County Judge Marco Hernandez in Hillsboro. The scene in court includes, left to right, Jeff MacLean, deputy district attorney; Joe Simich, probation officer; Rebecca Blaney, public defender; and a client reporting to Judge Hernandez.

Washington County Oregon At the start of a recent Mental Health Court session, the 50-year-old judge tells the crowd he shredded his ankle his first time snowboarding. One of the defendants, diagnosed as a bipolar alcoholic, says falling is the best part and volunteers to teach the judge how to do it right.

Another time, a meth addict with a bipolar diagnosis says she is discouraged that her theft conviction keeps her from getting a decent job.

“I started out washing dishes and I was a janitor,” Hernandez barks, waving his arm as the defendants laugh. “I went all the way through college, and my first job was a maid! What’s up with that? A four-year degree and I’m a maid!”

Hernandez leads Mental Health Court as part inspirational speaker, part compassionate confessor, part stern uncle.

The banter puts the mentally ill defendants at ease. Hernandez shows he believes in them and trusts them. In turn, they don’t want to disappoint.

The rapport between judge and defendants, along with intense supervision and hard work by a team of court, corrections and mental health staff, has helped the special court navigate the ups and downs of its first year.

“So, what’s going on?” the judge asks a big man who has schizophrenia and a cocaine addiction. Earlier, Hernandez sent the man to jail on a probation violation.

“I’m doing the classes, I’m out of jail, I’m sleeping in the Coop every night,” the man says, referring to a Luke-Dorf Inc. group home for mentally ill substance abusers. “I’m going to classes. I’m observing the rules every night.”

Progress can be uneven
The Washington County team struggles to deal with the breakdowns that can haunt the mentally ill.

One woman died from a heroin overdose. Some participants attempt suicide, abuse alcohol or use illicit drugs. Some miss appointments and classes. Every session, the judge metes out jail time or community service to those who slip up.

“I’m not messing around,” Hernandez bluntly tells a man who left the Coop and was caught using drugs. “We had a deal. I’ve gone way out of my way to help you out on this, but you aren’t doing your part.”

Hernandez and Simich say they have learned to look at how far the participants have come, not how far they have to go.

One woman with a bipolar diagnosis used to be hospitalized several times a week, threatening suicide. Since she’s been coming to Mental Health Court — and since Hernandez sent her to jail for 90 days for using meth again –”we broke her of that and she did well for a while,” Simich says.

Heather Wiegele, 30, who was diagnosed as bipolar at age 13, was convicted of drunken driving and skipped out on her probation. She says she appreciates that Hernandez, who told her she had to comply or go to jail, is tough but fair. Clean and sober for 7-1/2 months, Wiegele asked Hernandez during court in February if she could move to Arizona to be closer to family. The judge conferred with the rest of the team and said she needed to get a job and finish the program here.

“When she came in last year, I thought she was going to die, she was literally shaking,” Hernandez explains later.

A couple of weeks after she professed she was ready to leave, Wiegele’s depression got the best of her. She drank, took 60 of her anti-anxiety pills and ended up in the hospital. Now she’s back in Mental Health Court and attending extra Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She has a landscaping job and has moved into the Coop.

What kind of treatment would a defendant be ordered to complete?
Each defendant will have a treatment plan that addresses their unique needs and community safety. The treatment plan could include mental health treatment, medications, inpatient or outpatient chemical dependency treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous, domestic violence treatment, sex offender treatment or other specialized treatments as recommended.
What are the primary goals of Mental Health Court?
  1. Community safety
  2. Systems integration and service facilitation for our defendants
  3. Reducing the criminalization of persons with mental illness and other brain disorders
Hmmm, are they really caring about ‘community safety’ ?

http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2008/03/court_of_hope.html

Juvenile Justice Participants Mandated to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous.

Does the Drug Treatment Court Program have special conditions? 

Yes. To finish the program, the minor must:

  • Go to drug counseling
  • Go to a court review every 2 weeks
  • Contact the community worker that supervises them every week
  • Go to school regularly
  • Have drug tests every week
  • Go to ‘12-step’ meetings at least twice a week. This can be Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous.
  • Write in a journal 2 times a week
They are mandating juveniles to the same meetings as felons and sex offenders.

http://www.scscourt.org/self_help/juvenile/jjustice/special_courts.shtml