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Shelton Municipal Court, Mason County District Court Partner for New Therapeutic Court Program

Home News List Shelton Municipal Court, Mason County District Court Partner for New Therapeutic Court Program

For the last four months, the Shelton Municipal Court and Mason County District Court have begun operating an innovative, community-coordinated therapeutic court.

This new court is the direct result of a $199,000 grant from the state Administrative Office of the Courts, awarded last winter, intending to increase the number of therapeutic courts in Washington state, especially at the municipal and district court levels.

Therapeutic courts are a proven way to holistically address and coordinate treatment for individuals in the legal system with behavioral health or substance use disorders.

To be eligible for treatment court, participants must be at least 18 years old; have a substance use disorder or behavioral health needs; be charged with an eligible misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, and be able to receive services in Mason County. Participants are often identified by the Municipal or District courts and encouraged to apply.

If approved, participants sign a contract agreeing to a list of rules and responsibilities, such as telling the truth, remaining drug and alcohol-free, attending all court sessions as ordered, and complying with drug testing. If therapeutic court is completed, the case charges are dismissed.

Participants meet weekly with a team consisting of a judge, court facilitator, prosecutors, defense attorneys, a probation officer, treatment providers, educational providers, and community providers. Participants remain in the treatment court program for a minimum of 9 or 12 months, and must, generally, complete program requirements within 18 months.

The goal of the therapeutic court is for participants to go on to lead happy and healthy lives. Participants learn methods to manage mental health or substance use disorders, or combinations of both. Essential life skills are also taught, which can include managing family or social challenges, finding stable housing, and employment or educational needs.

Court is currently held in 5 languages – English, Spanish, Mam, Q’anjob’al, and Aka Teko. Interpreters are available at each court meeting. About 15 participants are expected to begin the therapeutic court program this year.