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New Direction for Cleveland Mental Health Docket Getting Results

Mar 30, 2018
(Cleveland) -- The Cleveland Municipal Court’s Mental Health Docket has been under the direction of Judge Emanuella Groves since October, 2016. Under her leadership, significant changes have been made to increase the positive impact the docket has on its participants.

Contact:  Ed Ferenc, Public Information Officer                                  
Cleveland Municipal Court
216 664 6787 / 216 789 2597
ference@cmcoh.org     www.cmcoh.org


(Cleveland) -- The Cleveland Municipal Court’s Mental Health Docket has been under the direction of Judge Emanuella Groves since October, 2016. Under her leadership, significant changes have been made to increase the positive impact the docket has on its participants.

“Many mental health offenders are here by chance, not by choice. They did not choose to be mentally ill. However, they can choose to manage their mental health well” said Judge Groves.

Judge Groves hit the ground running when she took over. The first thing she did was require all the people on her team, including her, be certified in crisis intervention.  The 40 hour course covers information on mental illness and de-escalation techniques. Next, Judge Groves felt it was important to focus on the mental health of each participant in a therapeutic like setting. This meant a location change from the court house. The crisis intervention training was critical in anticipation of moving the docket.

In securing an off-site location for the docket, some agencies were reluctant and extremely concerned in providing space for criminal defendants with mental illnesses. However, Jeffrey Patterson, Chief Executive Officer of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, permitted usage of the Carl Stokes Social Service Mall on Woodland Avenue without hesitation.

The crisis intervention training has come in handy on several occasions. When a participant experiences a mental health crisis and their behavior becomes erratic, they are transported by court staff to the hospital, not jail.  With the assistance of mental health professionals, a protocol has been established so the behavior is treated as a medical emergency, not as a criminal act.

Since Judge Groves took over the docket, many participants have successfully completed the program. Completion of the program is no longer referred to as a graduation. “It’s now a recognition ceremony; we celebrate their efforts in maintaining their mental health and personal development. You don’t graduate from having mental illness, but you can celebrate the progress in successfully managing your mental health.”

As part of the program, defendants are involved in gardening and art therapy programs. These initiatives help improve their mental health and personal development.   In November 2017, The Supreme Court of Ohio recertified the Cleveland Municipal Court Mental Health Docket and the Ohio Mental Health Addiction Services Board allocated $150,000 in grant money for treatment, housing and recovery support. The funding will be used for emergency housing, financial support for housing and  peer training for both past and present qualified participants who will be trained in understanding mental illness.

Because of her passion and efforts to improve the outcomes of this specialized docket, Judge Groves is getting attention from the mental health professional community. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) of Greater Cleveland recently named her winner of the Valeria A. Harper Cultural Competence in Mental Health Award.

“I am extremely excited about the efforts we have undertaken to better serve the people who participate on this docket!”

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