Community members and leaders filled a room Tuesday to hear how a mental health court will impact Hamilton County.

Among those, Daisy Scott. She’s lived in the area with her husband for 50 years and has seen first-hand how mental illness impacts families.

“You don’t want your friend or family member to stay in jail forever when you know they need mental treatment,” Scott said.

She’s also seen the judicial system’s impact on the mentally ill and believes it needs to be changed.

“Several people I know of may or may not have insight into what’s going on,” she added.

Officials say of the 1,500 inmates currently housed at the Hamilton County Jail, 40-percent of those suffer from some kind of mental illness. Which, they say, alone proved there’s a need for a specialized court.

Criminal Court Judge Don Poole says the program is designed to help treat those with mental illness and believes the benefits will trickle down.

“A lot of people are coming in and out of jail in and out of custody a lot of times for fairly minor things but they stay in jail or the workhouse for an extended period of time,” he said.

Mental health courts are popping up in other cities across the country. Judge Poole says Nashville’s program has proven successful.

For Scott, she believes the program is a step in the right direction for a number of reasons and for that, she’s hopeful.

“And maybe they can find something that is effective for them,” she said.

The Hamilton County Mental Health Court will start on July 30th. For more information, click HERE.