The Appeal, 12/6/23: “Despite its stuffed Star Wars characters and posters displaying inspirational quotes, Allegheny County’s mental health court is a coercive and somewhat baffling place that demeans its participants and threatens them with incarceration, according to a new report by the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC), a Pennsylvania-based civil rights law firm.
The Pittsburgh-based court opened in 2001 to ostensibly connect people with mental illness to community-based services and keep them out of jail. Strict criteria govern who can participate in the Mental Health Court (MHC). They must have already received a diagnosis, been charged with a non-violent offense, and pleaded guilty. Before entering MHC, many participants spend weeks in the notoriously deadly Allegheny County Jail. The report states that one person was locked up for close to a year.”