Judges Say Mentally Ill Defendants Need Extra Help in Their Courts. Here’s What They’re Doing About It.


By Denise G. Callahan

Judges running mental health dockets throughout Butler County say the work they and others are doing reaps huge benefits not just for those in the programs but the community as a whole.

The latest court to be certified by the Ohio Supreme Court is the Butler County Area III Court — the other area courts are funneling clients to the West Chester court — and Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron has been running a mental health review docket. He is starting the certification process with the high court.

Between the two courts, 642 criminal clients have been helped over the past year.

Sherron said he has mental health specialists “embedded” in every docket in his court so they can intervene immediately in emergencies.

“If somebody is in obvious need of mental treatment or is potentially suicidal or something of that nature they get immediate attention, right there in the courtroom,” Sherron said. “It just amazingly decreases the steps and time to get them into treatment.

Sherron said about two-thirds of all court dockets include people suffering from mental illness, addiction issues or both, so “that’s the end game to get them into treatment as fast as possible, get them out of court.”

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