On January 26, 2024, INL's Caribbean Anti-Crime Grant, implemented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), convened its 37th virtual Judicial KIT. The program provided an overview of U.S. and Caribbean Best Practices on Mental Health Treatment Courts.
Approximately 100 judges, magistrates and attorneys attended the KIT session from 16 countries: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and the Virgin Islands (British). Attendees included Chief Justices, Judges, Masters, Magistrates, Attorneys, and Court Administrators. The key speakers were the Honorable Nan Waller, Circuit Judge, Oregon, the Honorable Justice Juan Wolffe, Puisne Judge, Bermuda Judiciary, and Senior Magistrate Maxanne Anderson, Bermuda Judiciary.
Judge Waller led by discussing the role of judges in taking the first step to leading change in promoting and advocating for mental health treatment courts. She noted that a judge’s leadership is instrumental in shaping the philosophy, practices, and success of specialized court programs, such as mental health treatment courts. Bermuda, one of the only countries in the region to have a mental health treatment court, reviewed their own mental health treatment court; the overview and history that led to the court; statistical impact of the program on recidivism and the criminal justice system; funding; fairness and access to justice; and community participation. One point of emphasis was how these courts are designed to provide a therapeutic and rehabilitative approach in a court environment by treating the individual whilst protecting public safety without imprisonment.
The discussion centered around the fact that specific procedures and processes can vary between jurisdictions, while highlighting the importance and need to continually evolve based on the experiences and needs of the participants and the community. Through their leadership and commitment to addressing mental health issues in the justice system, the presenters noted that judges and the entire mental health treatment team can contribute significantly to positive outcomes for participants and help lead to a broader systemic change in the justice sector.
Overview of Mental Health Treatment Courts
Timeline to Opening a Mental Health Treatment Court in Bermuda