South Euclid Municipal Court to form mental health docket, program
SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — The South Euclid Municipal Court is taking steps to form a specialized mental health docket and program for repeat offenders.
Dubbed “Fighting Recidivism by Elevating Excellence” or FREE, the program would allow qualified offenders to have their sentences suspended while undergoing 12 to 18 months of probation, counseling, treatment and other mental health services.
The court has earned “initial certification” from the Ohio Supreme Court to form the docket, according to a Thursday news release, meaning it can now fully operate. Final certification is contingent upon a site visit and approval from the Commission on Specialized Dockets.
“Mental health problems play a big role in many of the crimes heard by the municipal court,” Judge Gayle Williams-Byers said. “FREE helps [participants] make a permanent change to a stable, law-abiding life.”
Participants who successfully complete the program would be eligible to have their court costs and fees waived, and their cases dismissed.
Judge Gayle Williams-Byers and mental health professionals would monitor participants, who will be required to gain steady employment, earn a high school diploma and remain drug- and alcohol-free.
Cleveland.com; Published – July 30, 2015