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San Diego County Begins Behavioral Health Court

— San Diego Superior Court today held its first session of Behavioral Health Court, which is a new way to deal with criminals who are mentally ill.

Mentally ill people who commit crimes, very often end up in jail, and are then released, only to be quickly arrested again. San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert Trentacosta says the county wants to break this cycle of incarceration by creating Behavioral Health Court. This court sentences people to treatment and supervision, rather than jail.

Trentacosta is the county's first health court judge. He said criminals who go through health court are assigned a probation officer and a case worker who has access to services.

"We will make sure that they have adequate housing and health care, access to therapy and medication, and they're constantly assessed," he said.

The model for Behavioral Health Court is drug court, which deals with addicts who commit minor crimes. Health Court is funded by the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act.

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