WOODLAND, Calif. — California’s jails and prisons are full of people with some form of mental illness.
Often they commit some sort of crime sparked by that illness, drugs or both.
But one court is turning the tables on the entire system.
Inside Department 14 in Woodland’s Yolo County Courthouse, Judge David Rosenberg takes the bench like on any other hearing. The bailiff calls everyone to rise. The gallery sits.
In this courtroom, however, the jury box is filled with participants. They’re not a jury, they are “clients,” people selected for their suitability to be in this courtroom. That’s not the only difference.
“What’s your highest bowling score?” Rosenberg asks the man at the podium.
“There are going to be ups and downs,” he tells another. “And you know, it’s just part of the deal.”
This is the Yolo County Mental Health Court. Unlike others, there are no adversaries inside this room. The district attorney, the public defender, social workers, probation and the judge are all working together.