Federal grant will expand special court at BMC for substance abuse, mental health

Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey and Court Administrator Jonathan Williams recently announced that the Trial Court has received two federal grants totaling $6 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide mental and behavioral health services within the Boston Municipal Court and the Springfield Drug Court.
Of that, $4 million in grants will be used to fund services in the BOAT project at BMC, and it is among the largest federal grants ever received by the Massachusetts Trial Court.
“The partnership with Boston Medical Center breaks new ground in providing the first demonstration of Assisted Outpatient Treatment in Massachusetts,” said Chief Justice Carey. “The grant will fund more intensive and comprehensive services than are currently available for patients with serious mental illness who are criminally involved.”
Specialty courts use a team approach led by the presiding judge and include probation officers, clinicians and treatment providers, prosecutors and defense counsel. Specialty courts combine intensive probation supervision and mandated participation in treatment with the goal of improving outcomes and reducing recidivism. The Trial Court currently conducts 54 specialty court sessions across the state.
•Boston Municipal Court / Boston Medical Center BOAT Project
The Trial Court will partner with Boston Medical Center over four years to implement the BOAT Project in the Boston Municipal Court. The BOAT Project will serve persons with serious mental illness who are criminally involved and need more comprehensive, intensive services than are currently available.
BOAT patients will be assessed and treated by a multidisciplinary care team and referred to fully integrated primary care practices within Boston Medical Center or one of the hospital’s 14 affiliated community health centers. After 90 days of intensive outpatient services, patients will transition to a “stepdown” outpatient program, and then to an integrated primary care practice. Monitoring, case management and support services will continue for an average of 12-18 months.
The BOAT Program will serve 75 patients in the first year and 100 patients each subsequent year for a total of 375 patients over four years. Boston Municipal Court First Justice Kathleen Coffey will serve as the Project Director.

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