Posted by Al Anile
Left to the right: Al Rigoni, Club Member. Barbara Meyer,Club Member. Guest Speaker Honorable Lauren Edidin, Associate Judge Circuit Court of Cook County. Jason Wicha, Club President.

Honorable Lauren Edidin, Associate Judge  Circuit Court of Cook County, works as Judge in the Mental Health Court.

Cook County's Mental Health Court sessions are packed — just like the judge's usual morning case call. But here there are no pleas or stern pronouncements from the bench, no sentencing or confrontational prosecutor versus defense lawyer, no objections over some sharp lawyer verbiage.

Mental Health Court is about helping people get the treatment they need — not only so they won't continue to commit crimes, but so they can lead healthier and happier lives, Edidin said. "What we're trying to do is stabilize these individuals — many of whom have become disenfranchised from friends and family," Edidin said. "And they're alone."
According to Cook County, the first two Mental Health Courts were established in 2004 at State Street and California Avenue in the city; since then, more such courts have formed in Skokie, Rolling Meadows and Maywood.
Many of those entering Mental Health Court have co-occurring alcohol or substance abuse disorders, according to the county. Instead of spending months or years in jail, county officials said, participants get a Mental Health Court probation sentence and undergo compulsory medical, psychiatric and substance abuse treatment.