The Michigan House has unanimously approved legislation to create in law special courts that serve people with mental illness.
More than a dozen counties already have mental health courts that let charges be dismissed or reduced so offenders get treatment instead of jail. But bills OK'd Thursday and headed to the Senate would create them in statute and form a blueprint for how they should work.
The agency that oversees Michigan's court system recently praised the performance of the special courts.
A study of 10 mental health courts around Michigan found a lower level of repeat offenders. Participants also had better opportunities for work, education and treatment.
The bills would bar violent offenders from mental health courts. Open government groups are concerned that the proceedings would be secret.