New local sentencing alternative helps the mentally ill

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19NEWS) -- A new local sentencing alternative has produced its first graduate.

The Albemarle-Charlottesville Therapeutic Docket is designed to get some nonviolent offenders the mental health treatment they need.

A Fluvanna County man was the first graduate of the program.

The offenders have to plead guilty to the minor offense and then enter into the program.

Albemarle County Commonwealths Attorney Robert Tracci says Charlottesville, Albemarle County and Region 10 are all working together to ensure such offenders stay out of jail.

"It was recognition that those people were better suited and be treated in a therapeutic setting rather than being incarcerated," he said.

Tracci also says treating the mentally ill cuts down on police calls to the same offender and charges against the offender might be deferred or dropped if the offender completes the mandated therapy.

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