Mayor Fulop and City Court recognize Mental Health Awareness Month with improved access to specialized services across the city

Mayor Fulop and City Court recognize Mental Health Awareness Month with improved access to specialized services across the city

The Fulop government’s multi-pronged effort to address mental health is proving successful

JERSEY CITY — Mayor Steven M. Fulop joins that Jersey City Municipal Court and City Prosecutor’s Office recognize Mental Health Awareness Month As we conclude the month of May, we highlight the work of a Diversion Specialty Court designed to holistically address mental health issues related to the criminal justice system. Jersey City’s Specialized Mental Health Court is redirecting individuals with underlying mental health problems from traditional law enforcement to community-based treatment.

“We recognized early on that mental health treatment needed to be much more accessible to those who need it most so that we could support them to become active and productive members of the community rather than seek the alternatives,” said he Mayor Fulop. “We established specialty court as a more holistic way to better address the underlying causes that may contribute to an individual’s involvement in the criminal justice system, and in turn we have been able to reduce recidivism and ultimately improve public safety and quality of life for the community as a whole.”

Since the successful establishment of the Mental Health Court in 2013, Jersey City has continued to develop far-reaching programs to identify and address areas where mental health often plays a major role. Recent programs of note include the community-driven behavioral health treatment crisis response for non-hazardous 911 calls, as well as the launch this month of teen mental health sessions in partnership with schools.

In addition to legal and programmatic outcomes, the core function of the mental health court is to work with the prosecutor, defense attorneys, psychiatrists and social workers to create and oversee a treatment plan for the specific needs of each litigant.

Established in partnership with Jersey City Medical Center and housed in Jersey City Municipal Court, the honorable Judge, District Court Kelly Austin presided over the court. “It’s very easy to say that mental health should be a priority and self-care a necessity. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds,” Judge Austin said. “My court is here to change that. We are here to help accused individuals navigate the complex mental health system and actively participate in treatment, while providing encouragement and support as needed.”

Litigants who receive treatment and successfully complete the program can then have their charges reduced or discharged and have their criminal records quickly expunged. This serves as an alternative to criminal prosecution and allows individuals to avoid being subjected to criminal penalties, including possible imprisonment.

“It is undisputed that mental illness is a significant contributor to crime and disorder. Many in the criminal justice system are reluctant to force offenders to seek the treatment they need and deserve,” he said Attorney Jake Hudnut. “We in Jersey City have a solid psychiatric court program that connects offenders to meaningful services and resources. Through this program, we are able to apply justice and remedial action simultaneously, which will ultimately reduce the rate of recidivism. We are proud to have built a culture where Jersey City prosecutors are not just case workers but active problem solvers.”

In addition to mental health treatment, participants are also referred for substance abuse treatment and a variety of social services, including vocational training, employment, and housing assistance.

“Jersey City Municipal Court is a leader in establishing and supporting alternative justice programs and courts. Our mental health court, which has been recognized by the state judiciary, is fulfilling a critical role in addressing mental health challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said The Honorable Ramy A. Eid, Chief Justice of Jersey City.

“Best practices require a whole-of-government approach to effectively address mental health issues. As Director of Jersey City Municipal Court, I have made it a priority to ensure full administrative support for our mental health court so that our local judiciary can play its part in addressing this challenge,” he added Wendy Razzoli, Chief Justice of Jersey City.

(Visited 3 times, 3 visits today)

Comments are closed.