DOYLESTOWN >> With the development of a mental health court expected later this year in Bucks County, District Attorney Matt Weintraub penned an open letter to President Judge Wallace H. Bateman to detail the importance of how it will address the unique situations of defendants living with serious mental illness.
A long-time supporter of creating a mental health court, Weintraub also shared with President Judge Bateman a copy of a 41-page report from the University of Pennsylvania's Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice. This report concludes that a mental health court will help reduce the time offenders with mental illness spend in jail, improve public safety by reducing recidivism and lead to quality-of-life improvements.
The June 2020 report, “Improving Criminal Justice Outcomes through Mental Health Court Development,” was prepared at the request of District Attorney Weintraub, and had been shared with stakeholders by him prior to this as well.
With the use of current county programs, like early intervention mobile engagement, Crisis Intervention Training for police, the Veterans Treatment Program and Drug Court, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and the court system have already been able to successfully identify many defendants suffering from mental illness and found ways to address their specific needs, Weintraub said.
However, Weintraub added, the report makes clear that “mental health courts offer an opportunity to address the unique problems presented by defendants with serious mental illness in a more targeted, comprehensive, and effective way.”
District Attorney Weintraub is looking forward to continued progress on the implementation of the Bucks County mental health court with ongoing communication and collaboration with the project’s other stakeholders with the goal of completing this important project by the end of this year.
"I am optimistic that we can establish a Bucks County Mental Health Court this year. The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office remains committed to the mission of seeking individualized justice for each citizen that comes into contact with the criminal justice system. Establishment of this court here in Bucks County has been a long time coming.”