Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is recommending $200,000 to fund the Fayette Mental Health Court over the next year. It’s included in the budget he spelled out to council members Tuesday.
Kelly Gunning has been involved with Lexington’s National Alliance on Mental Illness Chapter for years. She told members of a Lexington council committee her son, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, tried to murder her and her husband in 2016 and is now in prison. Gunning also said they lost a daughter in law and their first born grandson to opiate overdoses within ten days of each other. “Three of our very close family members had been recidivizing through the treatment system for years. Not treated appropriately. Not treated with wrap around services, the kind that this court provides,”
In operation since 2014, the Fayette Mental Health Court offers an intensive four stage format with wrap around services for certain criminal offenders instead of incarceration.
Gunning says the diversion program has saved close to $2 million in would be correctional costs. Lexington Vice Mayor Steve Kay expressed his support for the three year old program Tuesday. “And if you just look at the economic impact, I think that all by itself justifies the program. But, what you can’t really understand unless you go to court, is the impact it’s having on these people’s lives,” noted Kay.
Gunning, along with a number of other representatives of Fayette Mental Health Court including Judge Kim Wilke offered comments during Tuesday’s General Government and Social Services Committee meeting at city hall.