Bill To Create Mental Health Courts Heads To House

Apr 25, 2013

Legislation seeking to allow for more mental health courts to be set up in Louisiana has been approved by the Senate. These new problem-solving courts would work much like drug courts do now.

Sen. Sharon Weston Broome told a committee earlier this week that only non-violent offenders diagnosed with a mental illness by a licensed mental health professional would be admitted into the program. She said if a defendant fails to meet the requirements of the program, they’d be revoked and have to proceed with facing their present charges.

The bill would allow for the chief judge in each judicial district to set up a mental health court at their discretion. But because the courts would be funded by the districts themselves, the Legislative Fiscal Office says the cost of actually running one is indeterminable.

Broome told the full Senate on Thursday her bill has seen a lot of support.   

"I am very excited that we have the support of law enforcement, of the district judges and, of course, the committee was very supportive," said Broome.

The full Senate was apparently very supportive as well, as the measure was advanced with a 35-0 vote. It now moves on to the House.