Mental Health Court: A ‘lifeline’ for defendants… but one that needs help

For those reasons, both prosecutors and defense lawyers tout the borough's Mental Health Court as an effective and necessary alternative for defendants with mental illnesses.

News Story (New York)

Frank Donnelly
Staten Island Advance
October 24, 2017

Tags: Courts, Disability: Mental Health

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society (New York City)


“It’s a lifeline. When it works, which is the majority of the time, it’s amazing,” said Samantha Smalls, an attorney who represents defendants with mental-health issues for the Legal Aid Society. “It’s life-changing.”

The Legal Aid Society represents the majority of defendants in Mental Health Court.

“Mental Health Courts are very effective at identifying people with mental health needs and linking them up with services that can help them with their mental health issues,” said Smalls’ boss, Christopher Pisciotta, senior attorney-in-charge of the Legal Aid Society on Staten Island. “The courts that work the best are the ones who identify those needs and link them up with services as soon as possible.”