With mental health issues affecting a significant number of people involved with the court system, the Supreme Court of Kentucky is creating a statewide commission focused on mental health, substance use and intellectual disabilities. The new Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health will work to improve the practice, quality and timeliness of judicial response to cases involving these needs.
The Supreme Court announced the new commission Aug. 11, 2022, at a news conference in the Supreme Court Courtroom at the Capitol.
“I’m proud that the Kentucky Court of Justice is joining other state courts in addressing the growing mental health crisis within the justice system,” Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said. “The Judicial Branch is uniquely positioned to bring stakeholders together to develop solutions to improve access to and outcomes for justice-involved individuals with mental and behavioral health needs.”
Chief Justice Minton has asked Supreme Court Justice Debra Hembree Lambert to chair the commission. Justice Lambert is a certified suicide prevention trainer and former Drug Court judge who has long had an interest in how mental health issues affect those who come before the courts.
“I’m excited to focus on mental health and substance use cases, but this will also be the first time there will be an all-hands-on-board effort to assess and improve the way the court handles intellectual disabilities,” Justice Lambert said. “And no group this broad and with this many resources has ever come together to tackle all three of these important issues.”
Justice Lambert said that the Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health will examine where the court system touches cases involving mental health, substance use and intellectual disabilities.
“The commission will be in a position to recommend changes where needed, and offer best-practices training to judges, court personnel, law enforcement officers, mental health providers and community advocates as we implement a recovery oriented system of care model,” she said.
The commission membership is composed of representatives from the judicial and legal communities; the juvenile, criminal and child protection systems; the legislature; the business community; organizations with a substantial interest in mental health matters; and other state and local leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to mental health issues affecting Kentuckians.
Note: Names will be listed as members are added to the commission.