Mental Health CourtProvincial Court | Saskatchewan
Courts of Saskatchewan
Mental Health Court
There are two Mental Health Courts; one in Saskatoon and one in Regina. Both began operating in 2013. Mental health courts improve the justice system response and access to services for offenders who commit crime in part because of their mental health and cognitive conditions. The goal is to stabilize the individual in the community and to prevent recidivism. This involves connecting these individuals to appropriate health care providers and other supports in the community prior to being sentenced.
Mental Health Courts operate using a collaborative model. The judge, Crown prosecutor, Legal Aid duty counsel and other defence counsel work with the participant, health care workers, community and mental health agencies to gather information to understand a participant’s underlying condition and develop a Participant Plan which is designed to stabilize the participant in the community. Such plans address community safety needs and criminal justice accountability of individuals with mental illness and/or cognitive deficits who are charged with criminal or provincial offences.
The Saskatoon Mental Health Strategy Court is held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays each month in Courtroom 4. A Pre-Court Meeting is held at 8:30 a.m. which involves a dedicated judge, Crown prosecutor, Legal Aid duty counsel, probation officer and members of community-based organizations meeting to discuss each participant’s progress in the program and the best ways to encourage participants to succeed. Participants attend court at 10:00 a.m.
The Regina Mental Health Court is held on the 2nd and 4th Fridays each month in Courtroom 7. A Pre-Court Meeting is held at 9:00 a.m. which involves a dedicated Judge, Crown prosecutor, Legal Aid duty counsel, probation officer and members of community-based organizations meeting to discuss each participant’s progress and the best ways to encourage participants to succeed. Participants attend court at 11:00 a.m.
Mental Health Courts are located in two Saskatchewan cities:
Regina Mental Health Court
2nd & 4th Fridays, 11 a.m. – Courtroom #7
Regina Provincial Court House, 1815 Smith Street
Saskatoon Mental Health Strategy Court
1st & 3rd Mondays, 10 a.m. – Courtroom #4
Saskatoon Provincial Court House, 220-19th Street East
Eligibility & Referrals
Referrals come from the Court, prosecutors, Legal Aid and other defence counsel, police, Community Corrections, and community/health agencies and are made to a designated Crown prosecutor.
The designated Crown prosecutor is the gatekeeper for referrals to the program. In assessing a case for referral to Mental Health Court, the prosecutor will consider:
- the nature of the charges,
- criminal history,
- risk to community safety, and
- whether there is a reasonable basis to believe there is a relevant connection between the mental health condition of the accused and the offences they are charged with.
In addition, the accused must be prepared to accept responsibility for their offences by entering a guilty plea to some or all of the offences. Lastly, the accused must consent and be prepared to participate in the Mental Health Court and have their sentence delayed.
Who It’s For
An accused who has mental health challenges, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or a cognitive disability that is linked to their offending and who meets the eligibility criteria and is prepared to enter a guilty plea to certain offences may be admitted into these courts.
Who It’s Not For
Individuals who are facing sexual offences, serious personal injury offences, offences with mandatory minimum penalties, driving offences, or offences for which the Crown will be seeking a penitentiary sentence.
How It Works
Mental Health Courts work most effectively when they bring together mental health professionals, social services professionals, and criminal justice professionals. Together, these professionals work to gather information about the participant and their needs/challenges and provide that information to the Court. This increased access to information provides an additional tool for the Court and justice partners so that support and supervision of participants can take place safely in the community.
The Mental Health Court is voluntary.
To participate, individuals must:
- meet all eligibility criteria, Crown prosecutors screen potential participants;
- enter a guilty to some offences and waive the right to immediate sentencing;
- follow a detailed participant plan setting out required conduct (such as seeing a physician and taking prescribed medications) and restrictions on activities (such as curfew and no contact conditions). The court will receive updates as to how the participant is doing on their participant plan;
- appear before the court from time to time as required by the court.
How Long Does it Take
Participants can expect to be in the Mental Health Court between six months and one year.
Participants who follow their participant plan and stay out of trouble with the law can expect to receive a reduced sentence. Participants who fail to follow their participant plan may be discharged from Mental Health Court and will be sentenced by the court accordingly.
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