San Joaquin County Mental Health Court

San Joaquin County Mental Health Court

We would like to thank San Joaquin County and Judge Vlavianos for allowing us to come and observe Mental Health Court.

The Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health staff and Executive Officer, Stephanie Welch recently attended a Behavioral Health court hearing through the Collaborative Courts program at The Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin.  This alternative judicial process consisted of compassion, dignity and respect for those appearing in court.  For staff, this educational opportunity was geared towards learning about different approaches to building bridges between criminal justice and behavioral health to prevent incarceration.   Ms. Welch stated, “Judge Vlavianos has a kind way of dealing with people summoned to his court room.  His compassion and motivation to rehabilitate rather than punish sets people that are justice involved up for success. He is a true champion for second chances”.

The Collaborative Courts are an evidence based drug court model, which establishes a court team that builds on a long lasting partnership of community provided services that involve county government, including the Board of Supervisors and Superior Court administration. The Collaborative Courts work with individuals and families in the criminal justice, and child welfare systems that have been met with the challenge of substance abuse, mental illness and other social welfare issues. Clients are supervised by judicial officers who oversee the client treatment progress through regular court hearings, which includes the use of incentives and sanctions. It is vital that this community collaborative creates access to substance abuse and mental health treatment along with a myriad of additional agencies that provide academic and vocational programming, social services for offenders and their families, housing resources, and other resources needed for a successful reentry into the community. The goal of the Collaborative Courts is to improve client outcomes, reduce recidivism and improve public safety.

The San Joaquin County Superior Court has successfully implemented six adult drug courts since 1995, which include: Parole Reentry Court, Felony Drug Court, DUI Drug Court, Dependency Drug Court, and the Collaborative Courts Partnership Project, all of which have been highly successful.