I have blogged in the past, about Mental Health Court and the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program. I recently had the honor to meet and hear speak a “true champion” for the cause, The Honorable Mark A. Speiser, Judge in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida.
Judge Speiser started the 1st mental health court in the country. Judge says that mental health court is not “being easy on crime, it is being smart on crime.” He went on to say that “mental health court has improved the quality of life for its participants. It is a more effective use of community resources and is less costly than incarceration.” One of the keys to Judge Speiser’s mental health court is that he believes that you reward adherence and sanction non-compliance.
Judge Speiser’s passion for mental health court, after 15 years should be a motivational tool for all of us to convince our prosecutors and Judges that non violent offenders with a chronic and persistent mental illness should have the opportunity to participate in a specialty court such as mental health court. Judge Speiser says, “It is better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” Well Judge, “I think you do mental health court perfectly!
Nancy White is a counselor who has spent much of her professional life working in corrections.