LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Mental Health Court in Calcasieu Parish helps deter people with mental illnesses from the criminal justice system.
Four people graduated Wednesday from the program after years of hard work. The graduates finished two years of Mental Health Court.
“So many of the people we get into the program have had too many often contacts with law enforcement, being on the wrong side of the law. what we do is get them corrected in their medications, in their treatment, in their counseling, in their lives. We get them reconnected with family," Judge Robert Wyatt, from the 14th Judicial System, said.
Those leading the program said there’s no one repeated or common crime they see — charges can be anything from a misdemeanor to a felony. The main goal: to prevent people with severe and consistent mental health issues from going to jail.
“Given the right opportunity, they will excel. They will work with the program and they will get better. Most of them will never get back into the criminal justice sytem, and that’s what it’s all about. To help these individuals," Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier said.
“When someone gets referred to us we have to look at their history, we’re looking at their criminal history, we’re looking at their medical, mental health history and using those two things and a few other factors we have an assessment that we have to do with each client to determine if they’re eligible," Jessica Savoie, the clinical supervisor for the Mental Health Court, said.
One woman, Jodi Trahan, said she’s currently observing the program with hopes of soon being accepted.
“They’re going to help me make my life where I can live it right. If it wouldn’t be for these people here, especially Judge Wyatt, Miss Jessica, Miss Amanda, I’d be back on the street," Trahan said.
Trahan said seeing the four candidates graduate is inspiring.
“It makes me feel like there’s hope, like life is going to get better. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be far away away and I have no problem helping them, them helping me and me jumping through hoops. It doesn’t matter," Trahan said.