King County creates treatment court for veterans

September 20, 2011

King County Council members agreed Sept. 12 to create a special treatment court for veterans tangled in the criminal justice system.

In a unanimous decision, council members established a yearlong Veterans Treatment Court pilot project as part of the existing Mental Health Court. (The county courthouse in Issaquah is a Mental Health Court site.)

The veterans court is meant to connect veterans in the criminal justice system to support and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The focus is on rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

“This new Veterans Treatment Court will connect veterans to the services and benefits they have earned and will improve the lives of those veterans who may be struggling as they transition back into civilian life,” Councilman Bob Ferguson, prime sponsor of the pilot project ordinance, said in a statement. “We can pilot a Veterans Treatment Court without expending additional resources, and we owe it to our veterans to make sure they get the support they need.”

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County establishes Veterans Treatment Court, focuses on rehabilitation

September 12, 2011

NEW — 9 p.m. Sept. 12, 2011

King County Council members agreed Monday to create a special treatment court for veterans charged for nonviolent crimes.

In a unanimous decision, council members established a yearlong Veterans Treatment Court pilot project as part of the existing Mental Health Court. The veterans court is meant to connect veterans in the criminal justice system to support and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The focus is on rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

“This new Veterans Treatment Court will connect veterans to the services and benefits they have earned and will improve the lives of those veterans who may be struggling as they transition back into civilian life,” Councilman Bob Ferguson, prime sponsor of the ordinance, said in a statement. “We can pilot a Veterans Treatment Court without expending additional resources, and we owe it to our veterans to make sure they get the support they need.”

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King County considers creating treatment court for veterans

August 23, 2011

King County leaders could create a treatment court to offer military veterans treatment and support services for mental illnesses — a concern as service members return from Afghanistan and Iraq suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Under a proposal developed by County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilman Bob Ferguson and King County District Court, a Veterans Treatment Court could debut as a yearlong pilot project to offer special court services to former service members.

The proposal calls for using resources from the existing Mental Health Court to create the pilot project. If a Veterans Treatment Court pilot is carved from Mental Health Court, the cost to the county could be nothing.

The county courthouse in Issaquah, as a site for Mental Health Court, could also host Veterans Treatment Court. If the County Council approves the proposal, a Veterans Treatment Court pilot could start as soon as January.

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King County considers creating treatment court for veterans

August 16, 2011

NEW — 1 p.m. Aug. 16, 2011

King County leaders could create a treatment court to offer military veterans treatment and support services for mental illnesses — a concern as service members return from Afghanistan and Iraq suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Under a proposal developed by County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilman Bob Ferguson and King County District Court, a Veterans Treatment Court could debut as a yearlong pilot project to offer special court services to former service members.

The proposal calls for using resources from the existing Mental Health Court to create the pilot project. If a Veterans Treatment Court pilot is carved from Mental Health Court, the cost to the county could be nothing.

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King County highlights mental health successes

June 7, 2011

King County used dollars set aside for mental-health programs to serve more than 27,000 people last year — a jump from 19,000 in 2009.

County Council members received the information May 9 in a report about the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency sales tax, a revenue source for mental health and criminal justice programs.

The report also indicated a 23 percent reduction in jail bookings among mental-health clients and a 23 percent reduction in jail days between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010. In the same period, psychiatric hospitalizations decreased by 19 percent for clients included in the sample.

“I sponsored the legislation authorizing the MIDD in 2007 because the costs of our jail being a de-facto mental institution were unacceptable and because I knew we could do better,” Councilman Bob Ferguson, the council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chairman, said in a statement.

In 2005, state legislators authorized counties to implement a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax to support chemical dependency or mental-health treatment services. King County Council members authorized the tax in a 2007 decision.

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King County highlights successes for Mental Health Month

May 11, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 11, 2011

King County used dollars set aside for mental-health programs to serve more than 27,000 people last year — a jump from 19,000 in 2009.

County Council members received the information Monday in a report about the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency sales tax, a revenue source for mental health and criminal justice programs.

The report also indicated a 23 percent reduction in jail bookings among mental-health clients and a 23 percent reduction in jail days between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010. In the same period, psychiatric hospitalizations decreased by 19 percent for clients included in the sample.

“I sponsored the legislation authorizing the MIDD in 2007 because the costs of our jail being a de-facto mental institution were unacceptable and because I knew we could do better,” Councilman Bob Ferguson, Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chairman, said in a statement.

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Leadership Eastside is committed to change

March 29, 2011

Leadership Eastside’s mission is to create fundamental changes — within the community and within the individuals who participate in the organization.

“One of our alumni recently said that the real project is you,” said James Whitfield, president of Leadership Eastside.

The nonprofit, officially launched March 16, 2005, “partners with the community’s greatest assets, its leaders, to meet the community’s greatest needs,” Whitfield said.

Indeed, the combination of community involvement and personal enrichment has seen much success during its past six years, largely due to what Whitfield refers to as LE’s primary product, a three-year leadership-development program, which accepts 40 to 45 applicants per year.

Issaquah Highlands resident Stuart Linscott, who was drawn to the program in 2006, said he believed the training would give him a “toolkit of skills” which could then be applied to many aspects in life, including furthering his community leadership, as well as personal and business relations.

Additionally, the people you encounter in the process, who share your values and goals of moving the community in a positive direction, often become lifelong friends, Linscott said.

“I think the neatest thing about the organization is that the people are all passionate about community involvement, and that really struck a chord with me,” he added.

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Judicial candidates face tough caseload

October 12, 2010

Crammed onto the ballot alongside the marquee race for U.S. Senate and high-profile initiatives is another important decision.

The electorate in Issaquah and broad stretch of northeastern King County faces a choice next month to pick a pair of King County District judges.

The race for the Position 6 seat features appointed Judge Michael Finkle and Issaquah attorney John L. O’Brien. Redmond City Prosecutor Larry Mitchell is running against Newcastle attorney Donna Tucker for the Position 7 seat.

The contests mark the first elections for both nonpartisan positions. King County Council members — backed by the state — increased the number of District Court judges last year to address a burgeoning caseload.

District Court handles misdemeanor criminal cases, drunken driving offenses and traffic infractions, requests for domestic violence protection orders, small claims and some civil cases.

The court is on track for a record year of more than 253,000 filings by the end of December.

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County expands Mental Health Court to Issaquah

July 13, 2010

King County plans to expand Mental Health Court — a groundbreaking program launched in the aftermath of a tragedy — to Issaquah by late July.

Launched as a pilot program in February 1999, the court uses a team approach to place defendants in treatment for mental illness. Supporters said the program bridges the gap between mental health treatment and criminal justice systems.

The court accepts mentally ill misdemeanor offenders, and then monitors them during court-ordered treatment. Participants waive a trial and agree to participate in treatment.

The court assigns a team — including a judge, prosecutor, public defender, treatment court liaison and probation officers — to monitor defendants throughout the process. Participants can be jailed for straying from the program.

District Court and elected officials announced the expansion July 9 at the Issaquah Courthouse.

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County expands Mental Health Court to Issaquah

July 9, 2010

NEW — 12:30 p.m. July 9, 2010

King County plans to expand Mental Health Court — a groundbreaking program launched in the aftermath of a tragedy — to Issaquah by late July.

Launched as a pilot program in February 1999, the court uses a team approach to place defendants in treatment for mental illness. Supporters said the program bridges the gap between the mental health treatment and criminal justice systems.

The court accepts mentally ill misdemeanor offenders, and then monitors them during court-ordered treatment. Participants waive a trial and agree to participate in treatment.

The court assigns a team — including a judge, prosecutor, public defender, treatment court liaison and probation officers — to monitor defendants throughout the process. Participants can be jailed for straying from the program.

District Court and elected officials announced the expansion Friday at the Issaquah Courthouse.

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