New Fee Helps Create Mental Health Court

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Byline: Tony Gordon

You will have to dig a little deeper into your pocket when you decide to break the law in Lake County starting April 1.

On that day, a $10 fee will be added to the court costs of anyone convicted or granted court supervision in a criminal case or a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Court Administrator Robert Zastany said money from that fee will be set aside in a special account to help pay for a mental health court for the county.

Expected to be operational next year, cases assigned to mental health court will involve defendants with mental health issues at the root of their criminal activity.

The court would arrange for and supervise treatment and medication programs for the defendants, and Zastany said that is where the $10 fee comes in.

"We expect treatment services and medication to be the most expensive component of the program," Zastany said this week. "By starting to collect the fee now, we will have the resources to pay those bills when the court incurs them."

Crisis team established: Another program dealing with mentally ill people who come in contact with the criminal justice system is the Lake County Crisis Intervention Team. …