Mental Health Court (Circuit Court – First Circuit, Honolulu)
Established in 2005, the Mental Health Court, in the First Circuit (Honolulu), is a specialty court that redirects offenders from jail to community-based treatment with intensive supervision to deal with public safety issues and support the recovery of defendants diagnosed with severe mental illness. The Mental Health Court team is led by Judge Trish K. Morikawa and includes staff from the Department of Health, Adult Mental Health Division who contribute clinical support to the team.
In this collaborative program, community treatment providers offer specialized care for participants requiring psycho-social rehabilitation, psychiatric treatment, substance abuse recovery, and other individualized treatment. Upon admission to the Mental Health Court program, participants redirected from incarceration to treatment are expected to receive multiple benefits including mental and medical support, reduced jail sentences, and probation or dismissal of charges, as determined case by case.
Eligible defendants are referred to Mental Health Court by their defense attorneys. Upon admission to this specialized court, each participant is supervised by a case manager, the court coordinator, and the court case supervisor/probation officer. Additional supervision is provided through regularly scheduled review hearings with the judge. The Mental Health Court program requires approximately two years of supervision and treatment, which is organized into four phases, corresponding to individual development.
Upon graduation from the Mental Health Court program, all defendants will have met required expectations and receive effective treatment, indicating solid, strength-based recovery. Each graduate will demonstrate values essential for living, working, learning, and participating fully in the community. Mental Health Court staff ensure public safety, by providing increased supervision, reducing recidivism, and placing an emphasis on accountability through the use of graduated sanctions.