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Misdemeanor Mental Health Court Launches in Westchester
Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah joined advocates and government partners last week in announcing the launch of the Westchester Misdemeanor Wellness Court (WMWC), which will offer eligible individuals community-based mental health treatment and services as an alternative to conventional prosecution.
The establishment of the WMWC, operating out of White Plains City Court, is the latest step in Rocah’s agenda to advance community-based violence prevention and rehabilitation for low-level offenders, like Fresh Start, Westchester’s first pre-arraignment diversion program. Launched in 2021, in partnership with the Westchester County Executive and the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health, Fresh Start expanded to all 42 police departments countywide in 2022 and has successfully produced more than 200 participants who received rehabilitative services instead of convictions and fines. Fresh Start is being developed to expand to drug treatment court.
“I am grateful to the courts and our partner advocates for heeding our call and helping us bring to Westchester County a misdemeanor mental health court, which will serve as a practical and humane alternative for individuals who commit low-level crimes and are in need of treatment and services,” Rocah said. “In addition to it being the right thing to do, the WMWC will also be an effective early intervention tool, to help prevent some individuals from committing more serious or violent felony crimes in the future.”
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