Recognized as the best judicial team in state
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The Wellness Court Team of the Eighth Judicial District was recognized Tuesday by the Board of Larimer County Commissioners for remarkable service and outcomes, and for receiving the Judicial Excellence Award as the Best Judicial Team in Colorado from the Colorado Judicial Committee in Denver.
The Wellness Court, also celebrating their 4-year anniversary of successful operation, is part of the 2013 – 2018 Larimer County Strategic Plan Goal One — Safety and Well-Being — which directed an increase in behavioral health services for people involved with the criminal justice system. “It was the belief in the Wellness Court and the support of the community that has led it its success. This has truly been a team collaboration,” said Eighth Judicial District Judge Julie Kunce Field.
The Wellness Court Team is led by Eighth Judicial District Judge Julie Kunce Field, Treatment Services Supervisor Misty Gulley, and Problem-Solving Coordinator Matt Jackson. The team is comprised from many organizations: Probation, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defenders Office, SummitStone Health Partners, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office [jail and patrol] Fort Collins Police Services, Loveland Police Department, Colorado State University Police Department, and Larimer County Criminal Justice Services.
The Wellness Team accomplished several missions with positive results — high-level supervision of participants with severe and persistent mental illness; supporting client recovery, increasing public safety, while also leveraging cost-saving alternatives to incarceration to reduce the likelihood of new offenses. Clients receive psychiatric services, individual and group therapy, probation oversight, and housing assistance. Re-entry services are provided as an attempt to reduce recidivism while providing clients in the program a connection to necessary resources.
It’s not an easy path. Clients must complete four phases of intensive treatment and therapy — which is hard work — and then demonstrate to the team they are ready to progress to the next level. It takes 18 months to two years to complete the program, which coincides with the end date of each client’s probation.
Even more impressive, the Wellness Court Program has consistently saved a significant number of jail beds from being used since its inception. In the first three years, about 10,000 estimated jail bed days were avoided saving taxpayer dollars.