If you meet the initial eligibility requirements outlined above, have your attorney, prison counselor, mental health counselor, or caseworker complete the Court ReferralForm (PDF) and fax it to the Specialty Court Probation Officer, Judy Knick, at 570-822-7866.
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The purpose of Luzerne County Specialty Court, like any other Mental Health Court / Specialty Court, is to link mentally offenders who would ordinarily be prison-bound to long-term community-based treatment. They rely on thorough mental health assessments, individualized treatment plans, and ongoing judicial monitoring to address both the mental health need of the offenders and public safety concerns of the community.
The client monitoring is accomplished through a team approach including comprehensive supervision, mental health counseling, medications treatment services, and immediate sanctions and incentives. Currently, there are over 160 mental health specialty courts across the country, and more are being planned.
The goals are to assure that offenders with mental illness receive treatment as early as possible and to maximize their chances of becoming productive, law abiding citizens.
No, participation is voluntary.
Ineligible charges include, homicide offenses, assault by prisoner, drug trafficking, crimes of a violent nature, sexual offenders and DUI offenses. (Aggravated assault, Arson, Burglary, and VUFA offenses may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.)
To some extent your requirements are individualized based on a number of factors, including your offense and mental health treatment needs. However, the mandatory requirements include meeting with your probation / parole officer on a weekly basis, attending all appointments, and actively participating in your mental health treatment. Additionally, you will be required to appear initially weekly to specialty court for status updates.
Failing to meet these requirements will result in immediate sanctions. As you successfully progress through program, the frequency of probation appointments and specialty court appearances will gradually decrease. The minimum length of time spent in Specialty Court 12 months, but the average length of time is between 18 and 24 months based on your mental health stabilization and severity of your offense.
The benefit of specialty court is to stabilize and maintain your mental health, as well as to breaking the cycle of incarceration. With proper counseling and monitoring of your medication regimen, you can hopefully learn to live independently and without legal ramifications.