Illinois courts seek compassion, hope for mentally ill

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois courts are taking steps toward better understanding mental illness and its growing impact on the judicial system.

Anne Burke is chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. Burke told reporters Tuesday that her “call to action” came in response to a report compiled last year by a committee she put together.

It found that the judicial system often lacks compassion, treats mental illness as a crime and skirts treatment alternatives or diversion from jail.

It’s part of a national effort to review courts’ interactions with defendants or litigants who deal with mental health issues and so-called co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse.