Mental Health Court

Sketch by Vicki Behringer that includes participants in the Mental Health Court graduation.

Sketch by: Vicki Behringer (Sketch Includes: Left to Right – Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven, Supervising Deputy District Attorney Chris Bulkeley, Forensic Supervising Clinician Kristi Abbott, Conflict Counsel Ava Landers, Judge David Rosenberg, Deputy Public Defender Bret Bandley, Deputy Probation Officer Stephen Svetich, & Graduate Ashley Crimmins)

"Prisons are not the right place for those suffering from mental illness. We are committed to working with mental health professionals, judges and others to provide more appropriate and effective options for the seriously mentally ill." – District Attorney Jeff Reisig

Over the past 5 years, Yolo County prosecutors have been focusing more attention on defendants who commit crimes as a result of their serious mental illness. This program increases participant’s insight into their mental illness by connecting them with community treatment services, reducing recidivism and enhancing public safety. With that increased focus, the District Attorney was one of the Yolo County agencies instrumental in starting Mental Health Court (MHC).

MHC is a minimum 18-month collaborative court-based treatment and monitoring system for adult offenders with serious mental illnesses. The program is a partnership between the Yolo County Superior Court, Probation Department, Health and Human Services Agency, the Public Defender, and the District Attorney. MHC is a strategic program designed to effectively address the increasing number of seriously mentally ill defendants cycling through the courts and jails.

Founded in 2013, MHC serves up to 14 Yolo County residents at a given time who suffer from serious mental illnesses and charged with Misdemeanor or Felony offenses. The program focuses on 4 goals for program participants: improving treatment engagement, reducing recidivism, reducing jail bed days, and decreasing local and state hospital bed stays.

Program participants progress through four phases: 1. Orientation and treatment plan development, 2. Early recovery, 3. Active recovery, and 4. Sustained recovery. Progression through the four phases includes increasing days of sobriety, writing a reflective essay at the completion of each phase, and consistently participating in treatment.

Read more about MHC’s program graduates:

Dennis Cortopassi | Jesse Fiero | Gary Wight

Mental Health Court program stats:

Mental Health Court Stats