Spokane Regional Mental Health Court
Spokane County has implemented an expanded Mental Health Court. This was made available thanks to legislation enacted in 2005, RCW 82.14.460 which allowed for a "Mental Health Sales Tax" of one tenth of 1% to be used for the operation of new or expanded therapeutic court programs and to provide new or expanded mental health treatment or chemical dependency services.
The Spokane Regional Mental Health Court maintains the premise that crimes committed by mentally ill persons are not simply a law enforcement or criminal justice problem, but a public health problem.
In the regular system, misdemeanant defendants often interact with multiple defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges. In the past, mentally ill offenders often spent unnecessary time in jail and, lacking access to mental health treatment services on release, became repeat offenders and cycled through the justice system again and again.
The Spokane Regional Mental Health Court (SRMHC) represents an effort to increase effective cooperation between two systems that have traditionally not worked closely together, the mental health treatment system and the criminal justice system.
The project has achieved the following outcomes for the mentally ill misdemeanant population:
The Spokane Regional Mental Health Court Team consists of a Judge, Court Manager/Forensic Evaluators, Prosecuting Attorney, Defense Attorneys, Court Case Manager, Probation Officers and support staff. The team interacts regularly with treatment providers, Eastern State Hospital Legal Offender Unit, jail discharge staff, and other important partners including housing specialists and financial resource officers.