Behavioral Health Court offers offenders more than jail time | KALW

Behavioral Health Court offers offenders more than jail time

Jun 5, 2014

Behavioral health courts can give offenders who are mentally ill the option to be tried for non-felony crimes. Within the program, offenders can have access to not only the district attorney and public defender, but to several social services programs in order to help them get them back on their feet. 

One catch — they have to want to be in the program. 

Lisa Lightman heads the San Francisco Collaborative Courts System, which oversees the San Francisco Behavioral Health Court. I went by her office and she explained how behavioral health court works in the midst of the debate over involuntary treatment of mentally ill offenders.

LISA LIGHTMAN: "It's an amazing committment to do justice differently. We feel like we need to look at the facts of the case, but we also must consider the individual, the individual's needs, and the history of their involvement in the criminal justice community."

We want to hear your thoughts: do you think mentally ill offenders should be given the right to refuse treatment? Chime in on our feedback line at (415) 264-7106.

Click the player above to listen to the full interview.