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Government & Politics

New HOPE in Summit County Court for Those with Mental Health Issues

A photo of the entrance to the Summit County Courthouse.
TIM RUDELL
/
WKSU
Summit County Courthouse, Akron, OH

The ‘HOPE Court’ is up and running in Summit County. That’s the new specialty-docket Common Pleas Court for cases involving mental health issues. And as it nears the end of a second month, it’s busy. 

Judge Alison Breaux, Summit Count Court of Common Pleas
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison Breaux

Case referrals to ‘mental health court’ already number more than twenty--and in a quarter of those, re-routing of the accused from the justice system to behavioral care is underway.  

The idea is to get people with mental problems who’ve been convicted of lower-level felonies into appropriate treatment so they can avoid further legal troubles.  

HOPE Court Judge Allison Breaux says that saves money too, because mental health services cost less than incarceration—though, she says behavioral service agencies will need to adjust.  “It hasn’t become an issue yet. Once we have more participants it might.  However, all of these agencies were already providing services for folks who were in the criminal justice system. Now we just have it better structured, and focused.”

Summit is the 10th county in Ohio with a mental health court for felony cases.