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Stow Muni Court receives state certification for mental health court

Published: April 27, 2014 12:00 AM

The Stow Municipal Court's Mental Health Court, known as STRIDE, has earned final certification from the Ohio Supreme Court's Commission on Specialized Dockets.

In order to receive the certification, the local court had to submit an application, undergo a site visit and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went into effect in January.

STRIDE Mental Health Court was created in 2010 to reduce recidivism and incarceration among those with a severe and persistent mental illness that get involved with the criminal justice system. "It works because it integrates community treatment options with intensive judicial supervision," said Lisa Coates, judge of STRIDE mental health court. "STRIDE stands for Successful Treatment Results In Developing Excellence, and that is the goal." Judge Coates said, "It is so rewarding to see participants engaging in treatment, staying sober and becoming productive citizens with housing, employment, schooling and volunteering."

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor congratulated the Stow Municipal Court and Judge Coates for receiving final certification.

"Specialized dockets have proven effective at addressing persistent criminal behavior," said Justice O'Connor. "Specialized dockets result in significantly lower recidivism rates which means offenders become productive members of society, for which we all benefit."

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Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. There are more than 150 specialized dockets in Ohio courts that deal with issues such as: drugs and alcohol; mental health; domestic violence; and sex offenses.

The new standards provide a minimum level of uniform practices for specialized dockets throughout Ohio, and allow local courts to innovate and tailor to meet their community's need and resources.

Recommended practices outlined in the certification process include establishing eligibility requirements, evaluating effectiveness of the specialized docket, and assembling a treatment team for implementing daily operations of the specialized docket. The team can include licensed treatment providers, law enforcement, court personnel and is headed by the specialized docket judge.

The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts; the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts; and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel. The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification.

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