Kitsap County offers diversion court for mentally ill

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Kitsap County is allowing people who break laws while in a state of mental health crisis to avoid a criminal record.

The Kitsap Sun reported Monday that since starting in November, eight people are have been diverted to the county’s Behavioral Health Court. The program provides people accused of crimes as a result of their mental illness with treatment and support plans. If participants comply with their treatment programs for a year or more, their charges are dropped.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Kelly says the program isn’t an easy out for participants, who could be released from jail with little supervision if they instead pleaded guilty. He says the behavioral health program instead aims to help mentally ill residents of Kitsap County who are looking to better themselves.