Mental Health Treatment Court Program

The Circuit Court of Cook County Mental Health Court (MHC) Program was established in 2004 at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building at 2600 S. California Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Since 2008, mental health courts have been established in all of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s suburban court locations.

The courts are post-adjudicatory programs, which have the capacity to serve up to 35 participants, and target individuals who are of high risk and have high needs, repeat offenders charged with felony non-violent offenses. Persons charged with misdemeanor offenses may be considered for admission on a case by case basis in the Municipal Districts. Individuals may enter the program pre-plea in isolated incidents. All MHC programs operate based in compliance with the Illinois Supreme Court Problem-Solving Courts Standards

About the Mental Health Court Program

    Mission of the Mental Health Court

    The mission of the MHC program is to reduce criminal activity, improve behavioral health and promote public safety by addressing the disproportionate involvement and specialized needs of persons with mental health disorders in the criminal justice system, by facilitating compulsory medical, psychiatric and substance use treatment. 

    Program Goals

    The first goal of MHC is to identify potential participants at the earliest possible point of involvement in the criminal justice system. After a participant is identified, the next goal is to determine the person’s eligibility for admission to MHC, to identify risk and needs factors and to develop a comprehensive treatment and case management plan. After admission to MHC, the ultimate goal is to help the participant reach an optimal level of stability by remaining arrest-free, living in a stable environment, enrolled in appropriate treatment services and compliant with prescribed medication.

    Participant Handbook (2022)

    The Mental Health Court Team

    The MHC team is made up of the judge, assistant state’s attorney(s), assistant public defender(s) or private counsel, MHC probation officer(s), clinical case management representative(s) and representatives of the Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County and any treatment provider or other collaborating agency or program from which a participant is receiving services. 

    Understanding Eligibility and Program Design

      Candidate Requirements


      In order to participate in the Mental Health Court Program, individuals must:

      • Have an identifiable, diagnosed mental illness
      • Have the ability to understand the terms/expectations of the program
      • Voluntarily agree to enter the program, sign the program contract and agree to abide by the rules of the program
      • Be charged with a generally non-violent offense
      • Have no recent history of violent or sexual crimes       

      Individualized Treatment Plans

      Program Design

      The Circuit Court of Cook County Mental Health Court is a post-adjudicatory program which targets persons charged with felony non- violent offenses, many of which are felonies as a result of an individual's repetitive criminal activity. Persons charged with misdemeanor offenses are not excluded and may be considered for admission on an individual basis.

      To be accepted to participate in MHC, an Individual must:

      • Voluntarily agree to sign a Consent for Release of Confidential Information pertaining to substance use and mental health treatment
      • Have an identifiable diagnosed Mental Disorder or Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED), as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)
      • Be able to understand the terms and expectations of the program
      • Meet the minimum risk score on the screening tool administered by the Cook County Adult Probation Department
      • Voluntarily agree to sign the Mental Health Court Consent to Participate 

      An individual is legally ineligible to be considered for MHC if he or she is charged with or has been convicted within the past 5 years, excluding incarceration time, parole, and periods of mandatory supervised release, of a crime of violence defined by the Illinois Mental Health Court Treatment Act (730 ILCS 168/20(b)(3)).

      An Individual is ineligible to participate by statute if the crime for which the individual is convicted is “non-probationable” (730 ILCS 168/20(b)(5)) or the sentence mandated “renders” an Individual “ineligible for probation” (730 ILCS 168/20(b)(6)).

      Program Outcomes

      A participant may be discharged from Mental Health Court in one of four (4) ways: successful discharge, neutral discharge, unsuccessful discharge and voluntary withdrawal.

        Successful Discharge

        Upon successful completion of all of the terms and conditions of the MHC program as described in the MHC Consent to Participate and the program phases, the court will terminate the individual’s participation in the MHC program and sentence of probation satisfactorily. If an individual successfully completes all of the terms and conditions of MHC prior to the expiration of his or her term of participation, he or she may be considered for early termination at the discretion of the judge and the MHC team.

        Upon successful completion of the terms and conditions of the program, any State's Attorney in the county of conviction, a participant, or defense attorney may move to vacate any convictions that are eligible for sealing under the Criminal Identification Act. A participant may immediately file a petition to expunge vacated convictions and the associated underlying records per the Criminal Identification Act.

        The MHC team will develop and provide participants with a discharge plan prior to being successful discharge from the program. The discharge plan will provide the participant with linkages to services and resources with continuing treatment needs after he or she is discharged from the program.

        Neutral Discharge

        Any participant in MHC who is unable to successfully complete or participate in program requirements because of a serious physical, medical, or mental health condition or disability may be eligible for a neutral discharge from MHC without further responsibility or consequence.

        The MHC team will develop and provide participants with a discharge plan prior to neutral discharge from the program. The discharge plan will provide the participant with linkages to services and resources with continuing treatment needs after he or she is discharged from the program.

        Voluntary Discharge

        Any participant in MHC shall have the right to voluntarily withdraw from the program after he or she has been given the opportunity to consult with counsel and to be admonished of the actual and potential consequences of withdrawal, including reinstatement and prosecution of original charges or violation of probation proceedings as provided for in the Unified Code of Corrections. The judge shall determine in open court that the withdrawal is made knowingly and voluntarily.

        Unsuccessful Discharge

        If a participant violates or otherwise fails to comply with program rules conditions or requirements he or she will be subject to unsuccessful discharge/termination from MHC. Prior to unsuccessful discharge/termination, a written petition to revoke probation or terminate from MHC shall be filed and served upon the individual setting forth the alleged violation(s) of probation or program requirements.

        Mental Health Court Program Courthouse Locations

        Criminal Division, Men, Chicago, Il
        Criminal Division, Women, Chicago, IL
        2nd Municipal District, Skokie, IL
        3rd Municipal District, Rolling Meadows, IL
        4th Municipal District, Maywood, IL
        5th Municipal District, Bridgeview, IL
        6th Municipal District, Markham, IL