Mental Health Court Being Developed in Story County

Feb 4, 2019

Specialty courts have gained support in recent years due to their goal of relieving pressure on local jails and the court system.

In this River to River segment, we learn about a mental health court being developed in Story County to address the increasing number of defendants with serious mental health conditions who are caught up in the criminal justice system.

“There are certain people who offend not because of offending choices, but because they have unmet mental health needs,” says Monic Behnken, associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University. “If you want to get this person out of the justice system, the best thing to do is to make sure that they are actually are receiving the mental health treatment that they need. That not only benefits the offender, but it also benefits the justice system.”

The Story County mental health court has already taken on two clients as part of a pilot program. Organizers of the court are in the process of building protocols and standards for the program.

In this segment, host Ben Kieffer also talks with Latifah Faisal, the Story County mental health court coordinator.