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Two New Programs To Provide Court And Dental Services To The Intellectually Disabled

Two new programs in Topeka will provide court and dental services to people with mental illness.

An alternative sentencing court run through the Topeka Municipal Court will allow mentally ill people who committed relatively minor crimes to be released from a jail earlier than scheduled if they comply with a treatment plan.

The program also will offer employment, housing and substance abuse help. Christine Wills with Valeo Behavioral Health Care says the alternative sentencing court will hear its first docket in early January.

An over 91,000-thousand dollar federal grant will pay a clinician and a person coordinating peer support to work with people who will qualify for the court's services.

Wills says the county will benefit from the program because treating someone for mental health problems in jail is expensive and not always necessary.

For example, Wills says a mentally ill person may be charged with trespassing while they are wandering with no intent to commit a crime.

People who have committed violent crimes will not be eligible.

Under the second program, mentally ill people who lack dental coverage will be able to get care starting in January through a partnership between Valeo and Community Health Ministry.