#NewOrleans is taking steps to address #mentalhealth needs among incarcerated children with an initiative funded by a $750,000 federal grant. Orleans Parish Juvenile Court is establishing a mental health court system aimed at reducing juvenile crime and recidivism.
Judge Ranord J. Darensburg, who has been on the New Orleans Juvenile Court bench since January 2021, recognized a significant role played by untreated mental health issues in the juvenile justice system. Studies indicate up to 70% of youth in this system have diagnosable mental health challenges, and this number rises to 89% in his court.
The new program will identify youth with mental health challenges and create special court sessions to address their needs. These sessions will bring together lawyers, school representatives, psychologists, social workers, and others to develop action plans for children, which will be monitored throughout the program.
The initiative was developed with input from community voices, including social scientist Mosi Makori, Dr. Thomas Oden of Oden Psychiatry, and Dr. Adeeba Deterville of Sankofa Cultural Institute. The federal grant, one of only 11 selected nationally out of over 200 applicants, will allow the court to leverage additional resources from federal agencies.
The program is set to launch this month and aims to create healthier families, ultimately leading to safer communities by addressing the root causes of delinquency, including poverty. Judge Darensburg emphasizes the importance of support, supervision, and care for young offenders to help them reintegrate into society successfully.