To help those people and perhaps get them out of the corrections system, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings hopes to begin a mental health court, which can help those who are charged with misdemeanor crimes get the treatment they need.
The program, which Rawlings hopes to have up and running by July, is one of three new programs Rawlings plans on instituting in 2010. He shared his vision for all three with members of the Bountiful Breakfast Exchange Club meeting at the Cottontree Inn last week.
He told club members that one-fifth to a quarter of all those in jail have some sort of mental health issue. A court, with a trained prosecutor and judge, would operate much like the drug court which has worked so well. He said one of the 2nd District judges has already volunteered to help out.
Rawlings believes that helping those with mental health issues will reduce recidivism and likely the number of days an inmate remains incarcerated.
“These are people who are already in the system,” Rawlings said. “They’re already costing taxpayer’s money.” He believes that getting such offenders treatment will get them out of the system. “We’re not talking about violent offenders here, but misdemeanant offenders.”
Another priority Rawlings has for the upcoming year is implementing a citizen’s school, much like the Citizen’s Academy which Davis County Sheriff Bud Cox operates.
Rawlings said the school would likely be a three to four hour class, teaching Davis County residents what goes on in the prosecutor’s office and how the office works.
He said the class would teach participants what the civil and criminal divisions do, and how they interact.
He hopes the school will offer participants a greater understanding of what goes on behind the scenes than the media can give, and explain situations like how and why plea deals are negotiated. During the school he’d like to set up mock scenarios to give participants the opportunity to think a situation through and come up with similar solutions to prosecutors.
“Part of the reason I want to do this is to be as transparent as we can be and for people to have confidence in us when we make those decisions.”
Rawlings also wants to tackle the increasing problem of juvenile crime and the “significant influx of gang members into Davis County.”
He said that in areas such as Clearfield on the north and North Salt Lake and Wood Cross on the south, “gang members are quietly moving in.” He shared that in one Bountiful apartment complex five known gang members have moved in.
Working with the juvenile court and police, Rawlings said the county is creating its own data base to check and verify the whereabouts of known gang members, so when crimes occur, “we can go after the gang enhancement.”