Michigan House moves on plan to expand mental health courts in state

Last week the Michigan House approved a series of bills to expand the creation and usage of mental health courts in the state. HB 4694, HB 4695, HB 4696, HB 4697 all addressed different aspects of the plan, with HB 4695 and HB 4696 effectively defining who would be eligible for the courts/programs and how they would operate on a day to day basis.

HB 4694 defines “mental health court” and explicitly permits the state’s Circuit Courts and District Courts to create them by court rule with the option of creation by future statute. The family division of the Circuit Court in the area can create a juvenile mental health court program in a similar fashion. Under HB 4694 the courts must adhere to the 10 Essential Elements of a Mental Health Court as established by the Bureau of Justice Assistance document of the same name. There is explicitly no right to be admitted into a mental health court.

HB 4697 addresses the issue of governance and funding. All mental health courts will be obligated to collect and deliver data on a case by case and person by person basis to the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO), as directed by the Supreme Court. The exact data to be collected would be decided by SCAO under the direction of the Supreme Court, including criteria for measurement and performance evaluation. The Supreme Court is specifically responsible for expenditures to the mental health courts in the state and the courts would be required to give quarterly reports on expenditures to SCAO.

Three of the four bills (HB 4694, 4696, and 4697) were approved unanimously; HB 4695 was approved on a 103-1 vote.

The package of 4 bills now moves onto the Senate.