(A) Establishment of Mental Health Docket.
The Court established a mental health specialized docket known as Successful Treatment Results in Developing Excellence (“STRIDE”) effective February 16, 2010, which is now governed under Superintendence Rule 36.20 through 36.29 for Specialized Dockets. It is the goal of STRIDE to reduce recidivism among individuals with severe and persistent mental illness in the criminal justice system; to reduce periods of incarceration by individuals with severe and persistent mental illness; and to successfully graduate participants from STRIDE by effectively managing the risks associated with persons who have severe and persistent mental illness by providing mental health intervention that integrates community treatment options with judicial supervision. The opportunity for successful outcome is afforded through regular appearance before the judiciary, supervised treatment, and the use of graduated sanctions and other rehabilitative services.
(B) Placement on STRIDE Docket.
In order for a criminal case to be placed on the STRIDE docket, a criminal defendant must first make a Request for Admission to the Mental Health Program as set forth as an exhibit in the program description. Program participants are selected from new cases that have not pleaded or have not been sentenced.
To qualify for admission, a criminal defendant must meet the following legal criteria:
- be a resident of Summit County;
- be charged with at least a misdemeanor of the first, second or third degree, but not including a violation of O.R.C. 4511.19 or a similar local codified ordinance, a sex crime, a weapons violation, or an offense involving a child victim;
- the mental illness must be a contributing factor to the defendant being charged;
- must have a severe and persistent mental illness with an Axis I diagnosis which would benefit from court monitored treatment;
- must be stable enough to understand and comply with program requirements and competency issues must be resolved before entering in the program;
- cannot have a criminal history of violence that might pose a risk to the public, staff and/or the agencies involved in treatment;
- having pending charges and/or presently on community control in other courts for felony or misdemeanor charges may make the defendant ineligible for this program;
- if the offense involves a victim of a physical injury, the victim must agree to the defendant entering into the program; and
- the defendant must voluntarily enter into the STRIDE program.
Referrals to the program can be made by, but not limited to, law enforcement, family/friends of the defendant, victim, defense counsel, prosecutor, community control, a judge or the defendant. Request for Admission to STRIDE shall be subject to initial approval by the defendant or defense counsel after consultation with the defendant and the prosecutor assigned to the criminal case subject to approval by the judge assigned to the criminal case, and initial assessment by the probation officer assigned to STRIDE according to the criteria adopted by the Court. Upon initial acceptance into the STRIDE program, the criminal defendant is referred for diagnostic evaluation to confirm that he/she meets clinical criteria. Clinical criteria includes: an “Axis I” diagnosis that is consistent with a severe and persistent mental illness; sufficient stability to understand and comply with program requirements; and the criminal defendant must not pose an unacceptable risk to program staff, family or community. The diagnostic evaluation along with the “treatment team” as set forth in the program description and participant handbook, and approval of the judge presiding over STRIDE; will determine if the defendant qualifies for the STRIDE program.
(C) Case Assignment.
A Request for Admission to STRIDE does not automatically transfer the criminal case to the docket of the judge presiding over STRIDE. If the criminal defendant does not enter STRIDE for whatever reason, then the case remains on the original criminal docket. If the criminal defendant is accepted into STRIDE and wants to voluntarily enter the program, then the case is transferred to the STRIDE docket where the criminal defendant shall enter a plea of guilty and be sentenced to the STRIDE program. The judge presiding over the STRIDE docket shall have the primary responsibility for case management. In the event the criminal defendant is unsuccessfully terminated from STRIDE under the termination criteria as set forth in the program description and participant handbook, the case shall remain on the docket of the judge presiding over STRIDE for sentencing according to the criminal sentencing laws as set forth in the Ohio Revised Code or local codified ordinances.
(D) STRIDE Docket Case Management.
Criminal defendants accepted into STRIDE will participate in mental health treatment, comply with medication as prescribed, counseling for mental health (individual and/or group sessions) and for substance abuse, if appropriate. The treatment plan may also include obtaining stable housing and reliable transportation, completing high school or obtaining a GED, participating in vocational assessment and entering appropriate training, obtaining and maintaining employment (either part or full time), attending other necessary counseling such as parenting classes, marital counseling, and volunteering or community service as set forth in the program description and participant handbook.
(E) Termination from STRIDE.
Upon successful completion of the Treatment Plan, the criminal defendant is graduated from STRIDE. If the criminal defendant is unsuccessful in completing STRIDE, the judge presiding over the STRIDE court will conduct a community control violation hearing. If the terms of community control are found to be violated, then the remaining balance of the sentence may be imposed. A criminal defendant may also be neutrally discharged if they are no longer capable of completing STRIDE.
(F) Presiding on the STRIDE Docket.
The judges of the court shall annually select a judge to preside over the specialized mental health court docket. Such judge shall serve for a period of one year, beginning on the first day of January.