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Judge amplifies mental health court call CBC News Manitoba

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | 3:05 PM CST CBC News

A Manitoba judge who has been researching how to set up a mental health court for the province says the time has come for it to exist.

The court would divert mentally ill people accused of crimes away from the traditional court system in an effort to reduce rates of criminal reinvolvement.

Currently, Manitoba has a drug-treatment diversion court where some addicts can involve themselves in rehabilitative programs under court supervision and avoid jail or other criminal sanctions. But there have been calls to establish a similar system for the mentally ill.

Manitoba's NDP government has been examining the issue for years.

But provincial court Judge Ray Wyant told people gathered for a workshop on mental health and justice Wednesday the time has come for a mental health court to be set up.

"That diversion ­ it's been proven time and time again ­ reduces the risk that that person will re-offend [and] protects society," Wyant said.

Wyant says his report on a mental health court is in the hands of the province.

"We know there are tough economic times but this is that kind of concept to I argue, the time has come."

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