Mental Health Court

What is a Mental Health Court?

Modeled after drug courts and developed in response to the over-representation of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system, mental health courts divert select defendants with mental illnesses into judicially supervised, community-based treatment. Currently, all mental health courts are voluntary. Defendants are invited to participate in the mental health court following a specialized screening and assessment, and they may choose to decline participation. For those who agree to the terms and conditions of community-based supervision, a team of court staff and mental health professionals works together to develop treatment plans and supervise participants in the community. (Council of State Governments, 2005).

The term mental health court is most often used to refer to a specialized docket for defendants with mental illnesses that provides:

The opportunity to participate in court-supervised treatment;
A court team composed of a judge, court personnel, and treatment providers, which defines terms of participation;
Continued status assessments with individualized sanctions and incentives; and
Resolution of case upon successful completion of mandated treatment plan.

“Mental Health Courts increase availability and access to a wide range of services for offenders with mental illness, enabling them to stop cycling through the justice system to become fully participating members of the community once again.”

Domingo S. Herraiz, Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance,
Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice

There are 13 Mental Health Courts in Oregon. Visit the following links for program examples.

Washington County Mental Health Court

Jackson County Mental Health Court


Click a county to contact a MHC Coordinator
Clackamas County
Clatsop County
Coos County
Curry County 541-469-3007
Deschutes County
Douglas County
Jefferson County
Josephine County
Lincoln County
Malheur County
Marion County
Multnomah County
Washington County
Yamhill County

Helpful links:

U.S. Senate Passes the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act- December 11, 2015

Office of Justice Programs- Mental Health Courts

Justice Center-Council of State Governments- Developing a Mental Health Court

Handbook for Facilitators- Mental Health Court