The mission of the TOMS Court is to develop a partnership between the mental health and criminal justice communities. The TOMS Court, in recognizing that recovery from mental illness is a process, promotes participation in a highly structured mental health treatment program to people experiencing a mental health crisis. This partnership will address the specialized needs of participants with serious mental illness, thereby reducing recidivism rates, ensuring public safety and improving the quality of life for participants by establishing mandatory, comprehensive, community-based treatment and services within the guidelines of the TOMS Court.
TOMS Court is a post-plea, pre-sentence diversionary program for participants diagnosed with a serious and persistent mental illness. A team evaluates the appropriateness of referrals and participants are either accepted into TOMS Court or referred back to the criminal justice system. For an applicant to participate in TOMS Court, the applicant will be required to enter a negotiated guilty plea to an offense(s) that provides accountability to the community while participating in the program.
Once an applicant is placed into the TOMS Court, the applicant is provided with a forensic case manager and a specialized mental health probation officer. These individuals will be responsible for assisting participants in accessing necessary services and monitoring participant compliance with services and treatment plans.
The duration of the program is expected to be between 17-24 months. The program will promote prosocial behavior and lower the risk to the community using intensive needs-based supervision. Participants will be expected to attend appointments with their probation officer and/or case manager, follow their treatment recommendations, and attend court regularly. Incentives are used to encourage positive behavior and reward achievements. Sanctions are utilized in the event of non-compliance.
Once a participant completes TOMS Court, offenses will be dismissed, and may be expunged. A graduation ceremony will mark completion of the program.
Qualifying Factors for Toms Court
- Applicant must be a resident of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
- Applicant must have a persistent serious mental illness primary diagnosis falling within the spectrum of Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, or Other Specified Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorder.
- Rarely, but with sufficient cause, other disorders may be considered.
- If applicants do not have a current diagnosis (a diagnosis made in excess of 2 years without ongoing treatment is considered outdated), s/he must complete an appropriate psychological/psychiatric evaluation to document a diagnosis.
- The applicant’s criminal charges must demonstrate a relationship between the diagnosed mental illness and the criminal behavior.
TOMS Court will not fund evaluations for any applicant. Indigent applicants, without any insurance source, may qualify for an evaluation at the expense of Cumberland/Perry MH.IDD. Participants who do not qualify for county-funded services will be responsible for all costs associated with obtaining an evaluation.
Applicants must at least meet MH.IDD standards for Resource Coordination services, as defined by one of the following:
- Six or more days of psychiatric inpatient treatment in the past twelve months
- Met the standards for involuntary treatment within the past twelve months
- Currently receiving or in need of mental health services and receiving or in need of services from two or more human service agencies or public systems such as Drug and Alcohol, Vocational Rehabilitation, Criminal Justice, etc.
- At least three missed community mental health service appointments or two or more face to face encounters with crisis intervention/emergency services personnel within the past twelve months, or documentation that the consumer has not maintained his/her medication regimen for a period of at least 30 days.
Applications must include any of the following documents supporting a qualifying diagnosis:
- Psychiatric evaluations (within the past 2 years)
- Psychological evaluations (within the past 2 years)
- Progress notes from a treating physician (within the past 2 years)
- A letter from a treating psychologist/psychiatrist indicating the diagnosis, period of treatment, and level of compliance
Submit TOMS Court applications as follows:
- Complete and sign the application and the appropriate Release of Information Waiver.
TOMS Court Application
- Attach copies of all supporting documents.
- Forward entire completed packet to:
Paul Polensky, Coordinator
Criminal Justice Services
20 North Hanover Street, Suite 300
Carlisle, PA 17013