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Behavioral Health Court

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The 22nd Judicial District Behavioral Health Court was established in November of 2011 to address the large amount of people suffering with mental illnesses involved in the criminal justice system due to lack of treatment or linkage to community services upon release from incarceration. Read More



District Judge Peter J. Garcia, who presides over Behavioral Health Court at the Covington courthouse, talks about why the court is needed, how it came to be, and how it works.

Behavioral Health Court Cuts Jail Costs, Helps Mentally Ill Find Help

COVINGTON—By noon each Wednesday, Louisiana District Court Judge Peter J. Garcia and his team are gathered around a conference room table and ready to begin. There are 16 team members—social workers, probation officers, attorneys, mental health advocates, and court staffers, most of whom will have a say before the one-hour session ends.  Read More

Criteria
Phases
Judges and Schedule

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This video is not associated with the Behavioral Health Court, but was produced by Access St. Tammany discussing resources available to citizens regarding mental health, behavioral health and suicide prevention awareness. 

Criteria

Defendant must meet the criteria for a Major mental disorder (Ex. Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia) as defined by the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Defendant may have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder, but the mental health diagnosis has to be a primary diagnosis. We also accept clients with a personality disorder where the mental illness is so severely compromising that it affects the individual’s ability to function in the community and where we have the appropriate resources to treat the individual.

  1. Defendant’s mental illness has seriously impacted quality of life and without added conditions of the court is likely to become non- compliant.
  2. Defendant has been convicted and is on probation (misdemeanor or felony) for an offense where a mental health issue was likely a factor in the offense.
  3. Defendant must be stabilized on medication or be willing to comply with all medical recommendations, including injectable medications and blood testing.
  4. Defendant must be suitable for Behavioral Health Court.
  5. Must be a resident of St. Tammany Parish.
  6. Must be probation eligible.
  7. Must have the mental and cognitive capacity to handle the structure of Behavioral Health Court.
  8. Defendant must be willing to sign a release for Behavioral Health Court, treatment members, medical treatment, and community resources to receive and exchange information.
  9. Defendant must submit to drug testing as required by the Behavioral Health Court.
  10. Defendant must refrain from alcohol and substance use.
  11. Clients who are charged with murder or sex offenses are not eligible.

Acceptance into the BHC must be agreed upon by the BHC team. A decision about eligibility will be made on a case-by-case basis considering the defendant’s mental health diagnosis and history, facts of the incident, criminal history, possibility of placement and appropriate treatment, and other relevant factors. These criteria are only guidelines to be used by the Court to aid the judges in making referrals to the Behavioral Health Court, paralleling the existing Drug Court referral protocols.

Phases

Phase I Requirements:

  • Must attend Court weekly.
  • Must check in daily with Case Manager.
  • Must adhere to treatment plans.
  • Attend recommended treatment.
  • Take prescribed medication as directed.
  • Comply with drug screening when color is called.
  • Turn in medication journal weekly in Court.
  • Turn in appointment log sheet (signed by providers) weekly in Court.
  • Attend a minimum of 3 peer support meetings per week. Groups may include DRA, AA, NA, Connections, or any other group approved by case manager.

Phase II Requirements:

  • Must attend Court every other week.
  • Must check in a minimum of three days a week with Case Manager.
  • Must adhere to treatment plans.
  • Attend recommended treatment.
  • Take prescribed medication as directed.
  • Comply with drug screening when color is called.
  • Turn in medication journal on Court day.
  • Turn in appointment log sheet (signed by providers) on Court day.
  • Attend a minimum of 3 peer support meetings per week. Groups may include DRA, AA, NA, Connections, or any other group approved by case manager.
  • Undergo assessment for Vocational/educational services if necessary
  • Be gainfully employed or full time student (as appropriate, according to level of functioning)

Phase III Requirements:

  • Must attend Court the first Wednesday of every month.
  • Must check in a minimum of two days a week with Case Manager.
  • Must adhere to treatment plans.
  • Attend recommended treatment.
  • Take prescribed medication as directed.
  • Comply with drug screening when color is called.
  • Turn in medication journal on Court day.
  • Turn in appointment log sheet (signed by providers) on Court day.
  • Attend a minimum of 3 peer support meetings per week. Groups may include DRA, AA, NA, Connections, or any other group approved by case manager.

Graduation/Aftercare

A ceremony is held to commemorate clients who have met program requirements, maintained satisfactory progress and remained engaged in treatment services. Several months before graduation, the BHC team begins working with the client regarding transition to graduate status and develops a plan to ensure that the client reintegrates safely into the community. The individual remains in an aftercare status with BHC for a minimum of three months at which time the case manager may recommend “successful completion” if, by all accounts, the client has maintained stability and recovery.

Judge and Schedule

St. Tammany Parish

Judge Garcia—Wednesday afternoons

12:00 noon pre-status conferences in chambers

1:00 status conferences

32 clients

For more information, please see our National Recovery Month page.