Ramsey County Mental Health Court
Many people who make Minnesota’s problem-solving courts work don’t get the recognition they deserve. Three judges who volunteer at the Ramsey County Mental Health Court want that streak to end.
Senior Judge Gail Chang Bohr, Judge William Leary and Judge John Guthmann nominated Brandi Stavlo for the Unsung Hero award for many reasons. Leary called Stavlo “the backbone of our mental health court.”
It’s one of three such grant-funded courts in Minnesota that divert mentally ill criminal defendants from the prison system and toward mental health and substance abuse treatment services.
Established in 2005, the court aims to reduce recidivism, improve public safety and reduce the costs of prosecution, incarceration and hospitalization. Stavlo, the program coordinator, makes sure it all gets done.
Stavlo started as an executive assistant at the court in 2006 while studying for her master’s degree in social work from the University of St. Thomas. She enjoys applying the clinical and managerial parts of her education to her work.
Stavlo gathers and organizes information on every defendant in the voluntary program to ensure he or she is complying with mental health treatment and with drug and alcohol testing. She identifies which ones are struggling and need more attention from the judge.
In addition to her assigned tasks, Stavlo supervises an internship program for social work master’s degree candidates and one for certified attorney-law students from the Minnesota Justice Foundation.
She will participate in national training to help to set up new mental health courts in Minnesota. Stavlo also sits on a statewide committee to develop standards for these courts.
“She cares about the defendants and what our mission is at the court,” said Judge Bohr. “She is amazing. The three judges who work with her are very, very appreciative of all her work.”