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Home > Press Page

Friday, May 1, 2015The Cook County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Adler Community Health Services (ACHS), part of Adler University, has launched a new mental health clinic and diversion program to service the south suburbs, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

Located at the Markham Courthouse, the pilot program screens all pre-bond detainees for their charge, background and mental health needs. Sheriff’s mental health staff then provides the Markham judiciary with qualified candidates for mental health diversion. Bond court judges then have the option of releasing detainees charged with misdemeanors on their own recognizance on the condition that they report to the Sheriff’s mental health clinic for regular treatment – all in lieu of costly incarceration.

At the clinic, Adler University psychology graduate students work under the supervision of licensed clinical psychologists in providing mental health services and programming. The ACHS service delivery model integrates the enthusiasm and idealism of a person in training with the knowledge and wisdom of an experienced supervisor.

In planning the location of the clinic, Sheriff Dart focused on the south suburbs due to the alarming dearth of available mental health resources in the region. With the closure of the formerly state-run Tinley Park Mental Health Center, southern Cook County was hit particularly hard by Illinois’ drastic cuts to mental health services.

“Our south suburban residents struggling with mental illness deserve a fair shot at living healthy, happy lives outside of the criminal justice system,” said Sheriff Dart. “The launch of this clinic and diversion program should serve as an example to Illinois’ elected officials that investing in mental health can save both money and lives.”

The Markham clinic is an offshoot of the Sheriff’s Mental Health Transition Center (MHTC), which launched in August 2014. Located adjacent to the Cook County Jail compound, MHTC is a first-in-the-nation facility that provides therapeutic services, job skills training and discharge planning for Cook County Jail inmates suffering from mental illness.

“ACHS is proud to partner with the Sheriff in providing clinical services to individuals in the criminal justice system who are suffering with mental health issues—and, ultimately, improving the justice system’s ability to support healthy communities,” said Dan Barnes, Ph.D., Director of Adler Community Health Services. “Since ACHS has been providing services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons for more than 30 years, I can assure you that addressing their mental health needs is key to lasting rehabilitation.”

During its pilot phase, the clinic will operate on Wednesdays and Fridays. Pre-bond mental health assessments will take place from 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. on those days, with the clinic itself operating from 9 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

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