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Mental Health Aid Important

Good for Steubenville Municipal Judge John Mascio for doing something about what virtually every judge sees as a problem — criminals facing mental health challenges.

Mascio revealed last week that he has obtained $60,000 in grant funding to support establishment of a mental health court. The Ohio Supreme Court is being asked to certify the new program.

Many people arrested for crimes are struggling with mental health issues, sometimes with substance abuse. Mascio estimates more than half the 197 offenders on probation in his court suffer from mental illness.

Mascio hopes better supervision of them while they are on probation, along with requirements they help themselves by taking prescribed medication, will help both the criminals with mental health challenges and taxpayers. The latter will benefit if his program can reduce recidivism.

Almost undoubtedly, the mental health court program will help at least some of the probationers involved with it. Those who refuse to cooperate could face sanctions such as requirements to complete community service — or even incarceration.

It is important to note this is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for violent offenders. Mascio plans to target people involved in low-level misdemeanor offenses. Helping them is both the right thing to do and a benefit to the law-abiding public.

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