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Mental health court now available in the Tri-States

There’s a new program underway to encourage those in jail with mental health issues to get the help they need rather than going back and forth to jail.

“I think the citizens of Adams County will be far safer because we’ve taken some people off the streets that have problems and we’re going to rehabilitate them and get them the help they need,” said Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha.

Mental health court is similar to drug court, which Adams County has been operating for more than a decade. As part of the new program the court pairs the offender up with medical professionals within the community.

“We need to have people who are properly medicated,” said Farha. “People need services to understand why they have the problems that they do and how to react differently.”

The first person allowed into the new program was 26-year-old Taylour Toolate. Toolate is no stranger to the legal system, as officials say she’s been in and out of jail over the last several years. She’s been charged with everything from drug possession to domestic violence.

Circuit Judge Scott Larson says the probation for mental health court is unlike any other.

“The whole idea being that it’s saving taxpayer dollars by not having people continue to commit offenses to continue to be placed in jail, going out and going through that same cycle and giving them some tools to use and not only rehabilitate themselves but get towards independence,” said Larson.

If not for mental health court, officials say Toolate could very well have ended up in prison as another statistic.

Mental health court has roughly 25 openings and is open to those who are convicted of non-violent crimes. Some of the guidelines to be entered into the program include the offender being at least 18 years old, having a pending criminal case, and having a serious and persistent mental illness.

Kaylee Pfeiferling

Multimedia Journalist

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