The state of Pennsylvania has been pretty progressive in comparison to other states for implementing programs that serve as alternatives to incarceration. There is an abundance of diversionary programs available that are tailored for defendants who've acquired a vast array of criminal charges.
As the correlation between incarceration rates and mental illness becomes clearer in research, the state's judicial system has taken considerable steps to address this issue in impactful ways. One of the most notable moves being the establishment of The First Judicial District Mental Health Court (FJDMHC).
The FDJMHC has jurisdiction within the city and county of Philadelphia. It exclusively caters to non-violent defendants with mental illness and co-occurring disorders. The main objective of this program is to divert the entry of said defendants from jail and prison into more rehabilitative spaces, like supervised community treatment settings. Defendants accepted into the program would be provided treatment, housing, benefits and/or community support services.
Qualified candidates for the FJDMHC are either serving a sentence for a felony case or waiting to be sentenced. Of course, these charges include non-violent crimes. Additional qualifications include meeting the criteria for Intensive Case Management services, like certain diagnosis' of serious mental illnesses and other medical necessity criteria. Furthermore, individuals requesting admission must be a resident who requires Medicaid and has at least 12 more months of court supervision to go as a part of their sentence.
Of course, the public's perception of FJDMHC varies. But regardless of opinions, it is undoubtedly valuable. The courts have listed that mentally ill people who haven't been diagnosed or aren't receiving the proper help are more likely to be incarcerated. The services available for people with mental illnesses also refuse to characterize substance abuse as a mental health or intellectual disability issue, making it difficult for others to perceive them as people who need help rather than drug addicts and drunks.
In order to take advantage of this program, the assistance of a criminal defense attorney is a must. A legal professional can help you make steps towards getting accepted and advocate for you to make sure your voice is heard. They can negotiate on your behalf and ensure that you get the proper help you're entitled to.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
A major part of being adequately prepared for your case entails seeking the help of an experienced attorney. A legal professional who defends criminal defense cases will know the ins and outs of the process and can get you into a diversion program that fits your needs. Attorney Joseph D. Lento brings a wealth of experience to the table, as he's successfully handled numerous cases just like yours. But most importantly, his familiarity with the overall process can be a source of comfort for you in one of the most stressful times of your life. For more information about his representation or how he can help you, contact him online or by phone today at 215-535-5353.