Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, of counsel in the firm’s Columbus office who also served for 16 years on the Ohio Supreme Court, was profiled in the Winter 2013 edition of All Rise, the magazine of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. The profile, which was entitled “Following her calling: Retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton ’79 prepares for next chapter in advocacy,” highlighted Stratton’s successful legal career and her work advocating for reforms in the criminal justice system.
“In establishing mental health courts for adults, Stratton helped spur development of Crisis Intervention Teams for law enforcement officers responding to calls involving mental illness issues. That alone has saved ‘countless lives at the community level,’ said Terry Russell, executive director of Ohio’s National Alliance on Mental Illness.
‘This training gives law enforcement officers the tools they need to de-escalate mental health crises in the field. This has an impact on the safety of both the individuals suffering from mental illness as well as the officers responding to calls,’ Russell said. ‘I have been in the mental health business for 40 years, and no one has had a greater impact on implementing much needed services for the severely mentally disabled than Justice Stratton. She makes it known that as an Ohio Supreme Court justice, she has a ‘bully pulpit.’ When I need to communicate to policymakers, I often ask Justice Stratton to open the door.’
Stratton’s efforts to expand mental health broadened outside of the Buckeye State’s borders when she helped create and co-chair the national Judges’ Criminal Justice/Mental Health Leadership Initiative. In 2008, the initiative received $600,000 in seed money to establish seven, and eventually with more funding, 11 state-level committees to focus on collaboration between parties with an interest in defendants with mental illness – all modeled after the Ohio advisory committee. Officials in Bexar County, Texas reported jail stays were reduced or completely avoided for 1,700 people during their program’s first year. A study of the Maricopa County Comprehensive Mental Health Court in Arizona found the recidivism rate of participants dropped to nearly half the rate of general population offenders.”
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