Article by By Amy Shipley, John Maines and Ann Choi, Sun Sentinel ~
People charged with minor felonies in Broward County's mental health court face punishment even if they are never found guilty, and spend more than six times longer in the criminal justice system than those in regular court.
Nearly a third can spend five or more years in the legal system without being convicted, the Sun Sentinel found in a six-month investigation.
The county's felony mental health court launched 12 years ago with a dual goal: Treating mentally ill defendants while holding them accountable for their alleged crimes. The idea was to link those defendants with services and prepare them for trial, moving them quickly through the criminal justice system.
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