QUINCY -- Applause greeted Judge Scott Larson's declaration that the first session of Adams County Mental Health Court was completed.
Those applauding included mental health counselors, probation department workers and court staff.
"All these people here are interested in seeing you succeed and get connected to the services you need," Larson said.
Taylour Toolate, 25, was the first person to enter the Mental Health Court, which was certified by the Illinois Supreme Court in July.
Toolate was charged with kicking a police officer and doing criminal damage to property during December incidents.
Under a plea agreement between prosecutors and Toolate's attorney, she agreed to enroll in the new court. She will be on intensive probation for at least 24 months, where she will have weekly court hearings in the first phase of the program.
A schedule provided by Larson will tell Toolate when she must meet with probation officials, counselors or others. She was told not to drink alcohol or enter places where it is sold.
Toolate said she hopes the program will give her a chance to change her life.
Larson said, "We'll meet weekly, and you can tell us if you have problems, and you can tell us if you're doing well. I wish you the best of luck."
State's Attorney Gary Farha said the Mental Health Court will provide individualized help for offenders who have a persistent mental illness and are not violent.
"We probably have 25 percent of the people in our jail have some mental illness issues," Farha said.
He hopes the county will eventually be able to expand the court, which now has room for 20 to 25 people.
Larson gave Farha the credit for requesting a Mental Health Court about two years ago in discussions with Chief Circuit Judge Diane Lagoski. Farha, in turn, said Mike Rein, the former executive director of Transitions of Western Illinois, had suggested the importance of the specialized court.
Larson said counselors and other treatment providers at Transitions, Blessing Hospital, Quincy Medical Group and county and city offices have supported the idea. Larson said it resembles the Adams County Drug Court, where those in the program go through intensive probation, treatment, counseling and testing to make sure they're making progress.
Illinois has more than a dozen mental health courts, and Farha hopes the local one will be able to handle defendants from all eight counties in the judicial circuit.