Sunday, November 12, 2006


Judge Eichholtz [former mental health judge] heads Night Court

Night Court Held in Marion County for First Time

Aug 21, 2006 09:49 PM EDT

Judge Steve Eichholtz

By Daniel Miller
News 8 @ 6:00

Night court is being held in Indianapolis for the very first time. Officials hope the new court will speed up the criminal justice process by moving cases through the system more quickly and alleviating jail overcrowding.

"It's critical that we move cases for a lot of reasons," said part-time commissioner, Judge Steve Eichholtz.

Court cases will be held at night as part of an initiative signed by city leaders to help cut crime on the streets.

"The events of this summer have kind of highlighted the crisis we've faced in the criminal justice system. It's something that's been building for a number of years," said Judge Eichholtz.

Judge Eichholtz, an Indianapolis attorney, will preside over the new night court. He says his courtroom will run like regular court proceedings.

"It will run like a regular misdemeanor-D felony court docket. We will hear all types of hearings, pre-trials, guilty pleas," Judge Eichholtz said.

For the first time, full and part-time prosecutors will handle class D felonies and misdemeanor drug charges at night inside the court.

"This is something I have hoped for for a long time," Mayor Bart Peterson said.

Mayor Peterson called city leaders together to address the jail overcrowding problem. He says moving justice cases through the system is crucial. He also says he's confident this new night court will help keep the streets of Indianapolis safe.

"To be able to utilize our court resources at night, I think, is a great way to stretch the resources better and it also sends a real clear message to the criminals in this community, which I think they've been getting in the last couple weeks, that we are deadly serious about stopping this crime wave," said Mayor Peterson.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Help for the Mentally Ill in Prisons in Indiana

Deal on mental health services for ex-cons
By Ken Kusmer
Associated Press
November 11, 2006

Needy, mentally ill prison inmates who have faced the prospect of losing their medications and other treatment when they complete their sentences are getting help from a new pact between the state's corrections and social services agencies.
Under an agreement signed recently by the heads of the two agencies, prison staff and their counterparts at the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration will work together during inmates' final months in prison to make them eligible on the outside for mental health care. It includes prescription drugs, funded by Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor.
The agreement, which also covers enrollments for food stamps and other benefits, marks a step forward in mental health care in Indiana because nearly one in five Indiana Department of Correction inmates is treated behind bars for schizophrenia, bipolar disease, addictions and other disorders that in many cases contributed to them ending up in prison.
Many mentally ill prisoners lose treatments as they move from behind bars to community settings where they might have little support from families or other means, said Mike Kempf, who works with prisoners as a volunteer for the Indiana chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness.
"I think it's a huge step forward. It looks like they're trying to link the two systems together, and that's important," Kempf said Friday.
Prison populations have multiplied in recent decades in part because psychiatric hospitals closed, leaving many who could benefit from treatment unable to receive it because they lack access to clinics, cannot afford it or choose not to. Once in prison, the state provides care.
Thirteen percent of inmates in Indiana prisons take medicine to treat mental illness. Eighteen percent receive mental health treatment ranging from counseling to more intensive therapy, Correction Commissioner J. David Donahue has said.
"They just relocated. They just moved into the correction system," Donahue said during a tour of the prison system's psychiatric hospital at New Castle earlier this year.
The new agreement encourages prison staff to contact FSSA about 90 days before a sentence ends to have eligible prisoners apply for Medicaid and other benefits such as food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
"That way we do not risk the gap in the treatment or the medication," FSSA spokesman Dennis Rosebrough said.
More help might be on the way. The Indiana Commission on Mental Health recently approved proposed legislation that calls for jails and prisons to forward inmates' mental health records to doctors and clinics that provide treatment after release. The General Assembly still must act on the proposal.
DOC's agreement with FSSA is another in a series that it has struck with other state agencies to help ease former prisoners' transition after release. Other deals have been with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to quickly provide government-issued identification cards, the Department of Workforce Development to point ex-cons toward jobs on the outside, and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to help inmates find homes.
The agreements are aimed at curbing a recidivism rate of about 40 percent of Indiana inmates returning behind bars within three years of release. This year, the DOC will release more than 16,000 offenders into society.

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