"Behavioral health court offers a win-win solution where the offender becomes an integrated member of society," said San Diego Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan. "It avoids further victimization of other members of our community and it solves the root issue."
San Diego Mental Health Collaborative Court was created to support incarcerated individuals to successfully reenter the community. Assessment begins while the individual is still in jail, and services start as soon as they are released. Individuals must commit to the full 18 months in order to participate in the program, regardless of how many months they have left to serve in jail.
One graduate, Michael Bradus, spoke about his time at the program.
"I was on the streets because I didn't want to live anymore. It was the caring people here that said I had some self-worth," Michael said. "Because of the program, I am two years clean now and I am dedicating my life to giving back to other people."
Michael is currently participating in a Department of Rehab program where he is studying to be a drug and alcohol counselor, and hopes to become a social worker.
"I am very proud of the people that are graduating today that are in behavioral health who agree to take on this probation because it's a hard program to get through," said Superior Court Judge of San Diego County Polly Shamoon. "For a lot of these people, everything about them is monitored every day and they could easily quit and walk away and they don't and we have a lot of great success stories."