Mental Health Courts

Mental health courts are specialized court dockets for certain defendants with mental illnesses that substitute a problem-solving model for traditional criminal court processing.

From four in 1997, the number of mental health courts in the United States has grown to over 300 today, with programs found in almost every state. As judges, county and state leaders, and advocates continue to call for the establishment or expansion of mental health courts in their jurisdictions, demand has steadily grown for information on designing, implementing, and revising mental health courts to achieve desired public safety and public health outcomes.

The CSG Justice Center has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure quality in mental health courts nationwide. Since 2002, the CSG Justice Center has provided training and technical assistance (TTA) to over 100 mental health courts around the country—first as the TTA provider to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) Mental Health Courts Program and under BJA’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP), which is the single best opportunity for a mental health court seeking start-up funding. In serving these functions, the CSG Justice Center identified and supports five mental health court learning sites across the country and continues to serve as a primary point of contact for communities interested in establishing a mental health court.

Finally, the CSG Justice Center has authored a number of publications on mental health courts that continue to serve as key resources for programs across the country, including Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: The Essential Elements of a Mental Health Court, Mental Health Courts: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice, Mental Health Courts: A Primer for Policymakers and Practitioners, A Guide to Collecting Mental Health Court Outcome Data, and many others. In 2013, the CSG Justice Center released Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum, a dynamic and comprehensive BJA-supported online curriculum for mental health court programs.

Mental Health Courts News

Key Staff


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Hallie Fader-Towe
Program Director, Behavioral Health
Hallie Fader-Towe works with local and state policymakers to craft policies, processes, and programs that will work best for their jurisdictions. In her positions with The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center she has worked with jurisdictions around the
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country on collaborative, data-driven planning and implementation efforts to address criminal justice functions from initial detention through reentry, including a focus on individuals with mental illnesses. She has also managed the development of training materials on mental health courts and on judicial responses to the prevalence of individuals with mental illnesses involved with the criminal justice system. She has written on dispute systems design for state trial courts, pretrial responses to those with mental illnesses, information sharing between criminal justice and mental health systems, and mental health court design and implementation. Before joining the CSG Justice Center, she was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in New York. Hallie received a BA from Brown University and a JD from Harvard Law School.
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Deirdra Assey
Policy Analyst, Behavioral Health
Deirdra Assey provides technical assistance to programs planning and implementing criminal justice and mental health collaborations; she also works on projects under the CSG Justice Center’s courts portfolio. Prior to joining the organization, Deirdra worked for Hudson County's Screening Center
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at Jersey City Medical Center, where she was a civil commitment evaluator. She also worked with the Hudson County Crisis Intervention Team and has trained with various local law enforcement agencies. Deirdra received her BA and MA in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
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