Summary

Also available for download: Brochure (PDF, 88KB)

What is the Springfield Specialty Court: Mental Health Session?

The Springfield Specialty Court: Mental Health Session is a court imposed condition of probation for defendants before the court who have serious mental health issues or co-occurring mental health and alcohol/substance abuse issues. Participants are required to actively and meaningfully participate in community based treatment for a minimum of three months in conjunction with regular reviews by the Specialty Court.

  • The Mental Health Session is a problem-solving court model that meets weekly and offers an alternative to incarceration.
  • Case Management services link individuals to services in the community that promote recovery, and monitor their participation.
  • The Mental Health Session is held in Court Room # 10 in the Springfield District Court, Wednesdays at 2 pm.

What are the goals?

  • Divert offenders with mental illness from incarceration and into community treatment.
  • Assist offenders with mental illness in maintaining treatment, housing, benefits & community support services.
  • Reduce repeated criminal activity by offenders with mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse problems.
  • Support effective communication between the criminal justice and mental health systems.
  • Enhance public safety.

How do I make a referral?

Referrals are accepted from:
District Court Judges, Assistant District Attorneys, Defense Attorneys, Probation Officers, and Jail Officials.

The Springfield Specialty Court: Mental Health Session Referral Forms are available here, or from:

Adult Court Clinic, Springfield District Court, 50 State St. Springfield, MA 01103

Referrals should be submitted to the Adult Court Clinic

Who is eligible?

Individuals who meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are 18 or older;
  • Have charges pending in the Springfield District Court with possibility of incarceration;
  • Have a confirmed serious mental illness or presenting with symptoms suggesting a mental illness, or dual diagnosis With substance abuse;
  • Have a guilty finding and are being placed on probation, or are on probation with a violation of probation notice; and
  • Agree to comply with program requirements.

Who is not eligible?

Individuals who have any of the following:

  • Charges involving assault and battery with or without a dangerous weapon resulting in injury may be excluded on a case by case basis.
  • Charges involving sexual offenses or arson.
  • Charges involving operating under the Influence.
  • Active psychotic symptoms that impair a person’s ability to decide whether or not to participate in the program, and active suicidal or homicidal ideation, necessitating psychiatric hospitalization.

What happens to a case at the Springfield Specialty Court: Mental Health Session?

  • A defendant is eligible post adjudication.
  • A referral is submitted to the BHN Adult Court Clinic.
  • A screening interview is conducted and a recommendation regarding the appropriateness for participation in the program is made to the court.
  • If accepted into the Specialty Court Program a case manager is assigned who will complete an intake including a comprehensive assessment of service planning needs.
  • The case manager will make referrals for treatment and services and will encourage the individual’s participation in treatment.
  • The individual will participate in this program as a condition of probation.
  • The probationer attends status hearings before the Springfield Specialty Court: Mental Health Session Judge.
  • Recognition is given for compliance with service planning at the Mental Health Sessions.
  • Sanctions are given for non compliance with conditions of probation.
  • Individuals will receive a certificate upon successful completion of the program.
  • Participants are requested to take part in a follow-up study to determine the effectiveness of the program.

The Springfield Specialty Court: Mental Health Session is a collaborative effort of:

Springfield District Court Judiciary
Department of Mental Health
District Attorney’s Office
Public Defender’s Office
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department
Hampden County Bar Advocates
Springfield District Court Probation Department
Forensic Mental Health Services of BHN

Funding for the Recovery with Justice Program is provided by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

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