Ingham County's 55th District Court has joined the ranks of courts opting for treatment of mentally ill defendants instead of sending them to jail.
The Lansing State Journal reports that the mental health court program was started in October with a $261,000 state grant, making it one of at least 19 in the state steering defendants into treatment for mental illness.
Defendants with serious mental illnesses must agree to participate. Only defendants convicted of misdemeanor offenses qualify. The program offers treatment, and help finding housing, employment and health care.
Presiding Judge Tom Boyd says, "It's the right thing to do.''
A three-year study of 10 Michigan mental health courts found that they can help prevent people from committing new crimes.