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New Program To Help Criminals With Mental Illness

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk is launching a new unit Monday aimed at helping offenders who are suffering from mental illness. She is expected to give more details about the unit at a conference on Monday afternoon, 2:00 the Martin Luther King Community Center.

Hawk plans to introduce the community to the new Refomative Justice Unit. The goal is to target offenders who suffer from a mental illness, along with young non-violent prisoners.

"For too long, prosecution rates have been used to measure the effectiveness of our office, and that needs to change," Hawk said in a statement. "This new unit is a step in that direction."

This is something very personal for Hawk. She returned from depression treatment earlier this month. At a town hall meeting a few weeks ago, Hawk said that everyone deserves the opportunity to get well, and insisted that incarceration does not always work for some people.

Hawk's experience with mental illness is a big part of why she is behind this push. The new unit will help mentally ill offenders stay out of prison. Hawk wants to get to the root cause of their crimes.

During the Monday conference, Hawk is expected to explain the eligibility and entry requirements for the new unit, along with what it will take to complete the program. Her office is reportedly working out details of this plan with Metrocare Services and Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

This all comes as Hawk faces a lawsuit by a former employee, who stated that Hawk is not fit to serve as Dallas County District Attorney because of her mental health issues.

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