Mental Health Court Linkage Program - Los Angeles Superior Court

Justice Partners Collaboration icon Project Name: Mental Health Court Linkage
Court: Los Angeles Superior Court
   Documents: Program Descriptions
   Links: Court Mental Health Webpage

Overview/Program Description:

The Court Liaison Program (CLP) is a collaboration between the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the court. It is staffed by a team of 14 mental health clinicians who are co-located at 23 courts countywide. Clinicians provide assessments and program recommendations for specific defendants to judges and attorneys throughout the courthouse on an ad hoc basis, thereby making every court in the courthouse a mental health court.

This recovery-based program serves adults with a mental illness or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders who are involved with the criminal justice system. The program is part of DMH's system of support and services offered throughout the criminal justice continuum from arrest to release. This program incorporates the "no wrong door" philosophy by offering the courtroom as an entry point for services. The objectives of the program are to increase coordination and collaboration between the criminal justice and mental health systems, improve access to mental health services and supports, and enhance continuity of care. The CLP further aims to provide ongoing support to families, and to educate the court and the community at large regarding the specific needs of these individuals. Participation is voluntary and available to those 18 years of age and older.

Program Benefits/Savings:

Not only are thousands of mentally ill defendants diverted into more appropriate programs, but the programs helps judges and attorneys better understand the range of options available to them for the treatment of mentally ill offenders. Diversion of defendants into more appropriate programs saves the court time in review hearings. The presence of DMH personnel means that the court does not need to provide court staff to coordinate assessments and referrals. The fact that DMH personnel are available across the court, and on an ad hoc basis, means that the court can avail itself of these services without the need for inefficient specialized calendaring.