Cook County opened its eighth Mental Health Court in 2016. Think of it as a last-ditch effort to keep people with mental illness out of prison, one final chance to stay in the community while a judge watches their every move. These courts have been around for more than a decade but in Cook County, only a few hundred people have taken part, while thousands more people with mental illness languish behind bars.
I reported this audio story for WBEZ, profiling the first person to complete Mental Health Court in Cook County. Her story illustrates what’s possible, but also highlights the difficulties of treating mental illness through the courts.
I received funding for the story from the Social Justice News Nexus at Northwestern University.