After being in business for a year, Northampton County DA John Morganelli is calling the County's fledgling mental health court a success. During that time, 43 people applied for admission. only nine have been approved both by the DA and the Courts. Eight cases are still under consideration.
There's reason to be cautious. This is a diversionary program. A person who makes it through this program will be rewarded with a dismissal of the charges. When the court was first established, the hope was that it would provide classic mental health treatment and housing opportunities.
Like the Mental Health Court, Drug Court is another problem solving court that got its start in Northampton County last year. That is a post-conviction court.
Do these courts just add costs? Advocates argue that they actually save money. Every person kept out of jail saves the County $100 per day. State programs and private insurance bear much of the cost. According to a study prepared by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, every dollar invested in a drug court saves taxpayers $3.36 in criminal justice costs alone. Most importantly, 75% of drug court graduates never see another pair of handcuffs.
President Judge Stephen Baratta and Judge Craig Dally are the driving force behind these innovations.