Benton County's mental health court set to begin in early April - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton County's mental health court set to begin in early April

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KENNEWICK, WA - Benton County's mental health court will be in full swing in less than a month. The Law and Justice Council met Wednesday and got an update from program manager Tara Symons on the progress.

Last week, they started taking referrals and already the first participants has been approved. Benton County's mental health court will be the third largest in Washington, behind King and Spokane Counties. 

Symons told the group that they know they're not curing mental illness, instead they're improving public health and safety for everyone.

"The goal is to assist our participants in obtaining the resources they need to achieve stability and live life free of the criminal justice system. So we want them to have the support they need to maintain their independence," said Symons.

There were three mental health training sessions recently, well attended by local attorneys and law enforcement. Now, even officers for on scene can help determine whether an offender might benefit from going through mental health court. 

The first court date is scheduled for the first week in April. Mental health court will be held Wednesdays.

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