Six years ago, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton began an ambitious effort to create separate court dockets for people with mental illnesses.
At the time, then-Gov. Bob Taft, a fellow Republican, cleared the way for Stratton to work with his top aides to make the idea a reality. Since then, Ohio has gone from two courts that specialize in defendants with mental illnesses to 33, Stratton said.
The effort ties together many state agencies such as Rehabilitation and Correction, Job and Family Services, Mental Health and Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.
When Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, took office in January, Stratton wasn't sure what to expect.
To her relief, Strickland, a former prison psychologist himself, is strongly backing the effort and making his cabinet secretaries available to help push it along, Stratton said in an interview yesterday.
"He was extremely supportive," she said. "He gets it. I don't have to explain it."
Strickland's spokesman, Keith Dailey, said the governor worked on federal legislation supporting mental-health courts as a congressman.