State House OKs legislation to strengthen mental health courts

Sep 19, 2013

The state House today gave overwhelming bi-partisan support to legislation meant to strengthen Michigan’s mental health courts.  

The measure would encourage the alternative court system to expand. But it wouldn’t provide state funding.

“We haven’t bound the state to anything today in the way of cost,” said State Rep. Kevin Cotter (R-Union Twp.) “But in the next appropriations cycle, we may take a look at that.”

Right now, Michigan’s mental health courts rely on local communities to finance their efforts.

Cotter says strong support for these bills opens the way for future state investment.

“This is an opportunity to really get serious about attacking cost and saying to the extent that we can rehabilitate and keep people out of prison, we’re going to save some serious money and we’re going to improve lives,” he said.

The alternative court system allows certain offenders with serious mental health issues to avoid jail time and have certain charges erased from public records. In return, they have to participate in treatment programs under the supervision of a judge.  

The legislation now goes to the state Senate.