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In mental health court they receive additional supports. Qureshi said they will work with the offender to understand what supports they need to stay on a positive path moving forward. Those supports could include getting them identification or sending reminders to the shelters the offender stays at so they know to appear in court.
“In the last couple of months, I closed files of people who had been in mental health court for a year and a half or two years. They check in with the court every week or every few weeks, make sure that things are still going well,” said Qureshi. “If something’s fallen through the cracks for them, they’ve relapsed, or, you know, they need more supports, the court is kind of there as a check-in for them.”
Qureshi says that there is a possible misconception that helps people get away with crimes they’ve committed. She said people can still be sentenced to jail terms and will continue to receive support while incarcerated.
More serious crimes such as violent attacks or domestic abuse are not a proper fit for mental health court.
Edmonton’s mental health court is modelled on a similar one in Toronto and is currently the only one of its kind in Alberta. Qureshi said it is Legal Aid’s hope that it can be expanded to other areas of the province in the future.
“We just want to make sure people don’t fall through the cracks,” said Qureshi.
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