Specialty Courts

The BCSAO participates in a number of specialty courts that provide treatment-based alternatives to eligible offenders. These courts reduce the size of Baltimore’s incarcerated population and lower recidivism rates by providing offenders with the services and programs that help to prevent re-arrest. The BCSAO participates in the following specialty courts:

Mental Health Court

The Office of Problem-Solving Courts of the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts defines a Mental Health Court as a specialized court docket for defendants with mental illness. The purpose of the court is to provide a consistent and informed approach to address defendants with mental health issues and to reduce the participants contact with the criminal justice system. Participants are identified through mental health screenings and assessments and voluntarily participate in a judicially supervised treatment plan developed by a team of court staff and mental health professionals. The team includes the judge, the assistant state’s attorney, a public defender, a court clinician, a court coordinator, a court case manager, a representative from the Community Forensic Aftercare Program (CFAP), specially assigned probation agents, and a courtroom clerk. The goal of Mental Health Court is to provide court-ordered treatment to the defendants who will then be equipped with community treatment and motivated to continue the treatment long after they are court-ordered to do so thereby reducing the risk of recidivism.

Drug Treatment Court

When criminal activity is motivated by addiction, it is to everyone's benefit to treat that addiction.  People struggling with serious, chronic substance abuse who wind up in the criminal justice system often return repeatedly.  Research has shown that when we treat an offender's addiction, they are less likely to commit future crimes than if we put them in jail or on ordinary probation.  Drug treatment court is therefore an important tool we can use to improve public safety and decrease crime.

Drug treatment court participants are nonviolent offenders who have been assessed as having a serious substance addiction and have agreed to plead guilty in their pending case(s).  A team of professionals including treatment coordinators, professional peers, and specialized probation agents create an individual treatment plan for each participant and adjust it as needed throughout their probation.  The participant attends frequent court hearings to monitor their progress, and the drug treatment court judge provides encouragement and sanctions to motivate compliance with the treatment plan.  The treatment team meets regularly as well, to discuss participants' progress and readiness to advance to the next phase of the program, as well as how to address any setbacks.  As participants become ready, they will receive support such as assistance in finding employment and housing, so that they can continue their recovery as productive and self-sufficient citizens well beyond the end of their time in the program. To learn more, click here to visit the Baltimore City Drug Treatment Court website.