By Dean Richardson, Prison Reform Committee Chair for the Desert Southwest Conference
Our current Conference vision asks us to be a Courageous Church: loving like Jesus, acting for justice, united in hope. We have a multi-faceted opportunity to live these attributes when we get out of the church, meet new people, and dig deeper into the possibilities for Prison Reform.
What is a Mental Health Court and what does it have to do with Prison Reform?
A Mental Health Court serves those with addictions and mental health issues, focusing more on the individual rather than the individual’s guilt or innocence. The courtroom team consists of Judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and community organizations providing mental health and addiction services. Every county in Arizona now has a Mental Health Court, but not every city.
How does a Mental Health Court increase vitality?
Communities of faith are most vital when learning and acting on justice issues. Invest an afternoon to visit a Mental Health Court and experience the hope-filled alternative to incarceration for individuals with addiction or mental health issues. You might make new relationships and grow in your discipleship. You may even discover a shareable passion for helping the least and lost both within your home congregation and your community.
Jesus said when we visit those in prison, we visit him. To love like Jesus, we must understand that not all prisons have bars and not all offenders deserve to go to prison. There are long-term community-based treatment options.
How do I get started?
The Glendale Mental Health Court serves persons with mental illness and/or addictions that have been charged with a misdemeanor. This court is designed to divert this population from jail into community treatment and meets every Wednesday at 3:00 PM.
If you are interested in attending one of the sessions, please contact Dean Richardson by Friday the week before the Wednesday you wish to attend. We can request up to 4 observers for any court session; Dean will notify the court, accompany the group, and can setup needed transportation. Contact Dean by phone at (480) 250-3580 (please leave a message) or by email at email@example.com.