Mental Health Court (R.I.S.E.)

The Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, General Division’s “Reaching Individual Success Everyday(RISE) Program is a specialized docket that offers targeted treatment for moderate to high-risk, felony offenders who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness which was a primary factor leading to their involvement with the criminal justice system.  

The RISE docket is designed to provide access to treatment and resources necessary to establish accountability, independence, and stability—ultimately, decreasing a participant’s interaction with the criminal justice system and improving their overall quality of life.

As the RISE docket leads to a reduction in recidivism rates among its participants and improves their level of productivity, it will be increasing public safety and making a positive impact on the community.

The RISE docket officially launched on February 28, 2022. It is the first mental health specialty docket in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, General Division.  The RISE docket has been in development since mid-2021 under the direction of the Honorable Judge Sheryl Munson. 

In seeking to develop this critical docket, Judge Munson was able to gain the support of her colleagues in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.  She has also collaborated with numerous community agencies to ensure that the participants of the RISE program have access to proper mental health care and other resources so that they can achieve healthy, happy, law-abiding, and productive lives.

Need for Mental Health Court Program

Individuals who have untreated mental illness can experience extreme discomfort, emotional unrest, pain, and intrusive thoughts. However, with treatment, individuals who were once suffering from mental illness can move into productive lives where they are able to enjoy living again, function in society, and become assets to their communities. These individuals no longer suffer from mental illness, but, instead, move to having a managed mental health condition.

In some individuals, untreated mental illness can lead to involvement in the criminal justice system.  A strong Mental Health Court Program can give these individuals the support and resources necessary to prevent their re-offending and also reduce the frequency and length of incarceration for these individuals. As a result, we build a stronger and safer community.  

Eligibility Criteria

  • The individual has been charged with one or more felonies. 
  • The individual is Community Control eligible.
  • The individual must be currently competent to stand trial and may not be under a current finding of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.
  • The individual must have been formally diagnosed by a licensed professional with a Mental Health Disorder as outlined by the DSM 5. Please note, RISE may not have the capacity to work with individuals with certain mental health diagnoses. Diagnoses will be considered on an individual basis. 
  • An individual may only be considered for admission to the RISE docket post-conviction.  This includes at sentencing stage, probation-violation stage, or upon judicial release, and, in some cases, as a condition of successful completion of the Intervention in Lieu of Conviction Program. 
  • All individuals are required to enter a guilty plea prior to admission into the program. 
  • Any one or more of the following types of offenses may render the individual ineligible for the program—though, they may still be screened and considered:  
    • Participant is charged with any sex offense.
    • Participant is charged with an offense involving a child victim.
    • Participant has a history of serious or repetitive violence.
    • Participant has a history of sex offenses or child victim offenses.
    • Participant has a history of offenses which were not driven by mental illness.
    • Participant poses a significant risk of harm to the RISE Mental Health Court staff and/or to other RISE Mental Health Court participants and/or to the community.

Because recidivism is an issue that the RISE docket seeks to address, many participants in the program will likely have a criminal history. A history of serious or repetitive violence, including domestic violence convictions where physical harm or weapons were involved, may exclude an individual from the program. That determination will be left to the discretion of the RISE Court Judge in accordance with these written policies. 

Phases

The RISE docket is a two-year specialty docket that was created to assist those individuals who have persistent mental health conditions and are involved with the criminal justice system. The RISE program consists of four phases which have been developed to help ensure that participants are engaging in services and making progress toward individualized goals. Each phase has specific criteria that must be met before moving to the next phase. 

In addition to meeting phase criteria, participants will be required to submit a request to advance to the next phase.  This request should include an outline as to how they have met the criteria of their current phase and why they believe that they are ready to move to the next phase. Movement across phases does not impact the level of treatment a participant will be receiving. 

Graduation

The court will use a combination of rewards and sanctions to help encourage positive behavior and participant engagement in treatment. Graduation from the RISE docket will require that a participant successfully complete all four phases; consistently adhere to the recommendations from their community treatment provider; show significant improvement in coping skills, healthy communication, boundary setting, emotional processing, and mood regulation; have at least 365 consecutive days of sobriety; and, satisfy any restitution, fines, or court costs associated with their case(s).  

Though the RISE docket is designed to be completed in two years, participants may move through the docket in a shorter period of time or may require more time—up to five years—to successfully complete the program

Upon successful completion of all four phases of the RISE docket, a participant will graduate from the program and will be honored at a Graduation Ceremony where family, friends, peer-supporters, and others who have a positive impact on the participant may attend.

Supervision

The RISE docket is under the supervision of Judge Sheryl Munson. Judge Munson leads the RISE Team which consists of the Mental Health Program Coordinator, the Bailiff, the dedicated Probation Officer, a member of the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, members of the Defense Bar/a dedicated member of the Franklin County Public Defender Office, numerous Advisory Committee members, and treatment and community service providers.

For additional information regarding the RISE docket, please contact the RISE Coordinator, Vannessa Cooper

Find out ways that you can support this unique program by contacting our team today.

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