New Cook County mental health court unveiled

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- A mental health court that will separate criminals from
those who are ill. That process is taking a huge step forward Thursday morning --
and at no cost to cook county tax payers.

It is relationship between Palos Community Hospital and the Cook County court Bridgeview division. When Chief Judge Timothy Evans first received word of the hospital's offer, he was delighted. Judge Evans says the numbers tell the story, when people commit a non-violent offense who also have some sort of mental illness and too often self-medicating drug dependent, 75 percent who get the mental health help needed will not go on to commit additional crimes later in life.

Palos is offering their services for free. Doctor Mark Sinibaldi is in charge of the hospitals physician, psychiatrist and chairman of the hospital.

As many as 35 suburbs fall under the Bridgview jurisdiction. Orland Park is one of them. Chief Tim McCarthy, the former secret service agent who stepped in front of a bullet and saved president Reagan's life in an assassination attempt in 1981, says this new program is needed plain and simple more than ever.

Chief McCarthy is also a board member at the Palos Community Hospital. This was the only division of the Cook County court system not served by by a full-time mental health court and he is so glad those days are now over.

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