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Mental health court unlikely in short term
Judge also reminds new task force about funding woes
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Forsyth County News

 

While he's not against the concept, Forsyth County won't be getting a mental health court any time soon, said Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley.

Bagley made the statement Wednesday morning during the second meeting of the Forsyth County Mental Health-Criminal Justice Task Force.

"We do not have a Superior Court judge who has the time to devote to a mental health court," Bagley said. "We are one full judge short in this circuit. We can not take it on right now."

Bagley said he'd heard rumors about such a possibility were circulating through the community.

According to information provided by project coordinator Flo Giltman, the task force formed in August with the goal of promoting communication between the local mental health and criminal justice fields.

It aims to guide the county "to design, implement and operate integrated systems of care for persons with significant mental disabilities with or without chemical dependency."

Bagley reminded the group of the judicial system's financial woes, which have prevented it from adding a much needed third Superior Court judge.

He hopes that position will come about in the 2012 General Assembly, noting that the state funds Superior Court judges, their staff and any accompanying prosecutors.

Compounding the situation, the county courthouse is crowded and aging. Bagley said funding for a new courthouse could be included in the upcoming proposed extension of the 1-cent sales tax.

The group also discussed the conditions at the Forsyth County Detention Center, issues related to mental health treatment for inmates and matters involving juveniles.

Its next meeting is tentatively set for May.