Leading Stories

January 4th, 2020

VT legislators seek to close gap in criminal justice, mental health systems

By Phyllis Hanlon

Earlier this year, three high-profile criminal cases were dropped when Vermont’s attorney general deemed the defendants insane at the time the crimes were committed. The ruling drew questions about the way the state handles criminal cases involving people with mental illness. To address this issue, lawmakers proposed legislation to bridge the gap. State Senator Richard Sears (D-Bennington County and Wilmington) reported that the bill is still in the draft stage and is the result of collaboration with several other senators and the office of states attorneys. “I expect once introduced in January both Senate Judiciary and Senate Health and Welfare [More]

May 29th, 2019

Mental health courts offer alternative path to recovery

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 2007, Judge Kathleen Coffey sought a way to help those with mental health disorders who were facing imprisonment. Mental Health Court offers an alternative path to recovery while avoiding incarceration. Joan Taglieri, senior director of clinical operations for the Boston Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, explained that the Mental Health Court is a specialized diversionary court session that facilitates access to intensive social services and mental health treatment to assist participants in maintaining stability, achieving recovery, and avoiding incarceration. This special court session is a collaborative effort within the courts between the probation department, the Suffolk County district attorney’s [More]