County to start new court for mentally ill offenders

By The Associated Press

VALPARAISO — A northwestern Indiana county is preparing to become just the fourth in the state to operate a court specifically designed to treat the needs of nonviolent mentally ill offenders.

Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester says the county’s Restoration Court will operate much like its existing drug and veterans treatment courts: Participants who successfully complete the program can have underlying criminal cases dismissed. Chidester will oversee the court.

Porter County PACT Director Tammy O’Neill, who helped create the new court, said the justice system contains “a disproportionate number” of people with mental illness.

Chidester tells The (Northwest Indiana) Times the court will be funded with a grant from the Indiana Department of Correction. It’s due to start operations early next year.

Similar courts operate in Allen, Lake and Madison counties.

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