About two dozen program participants showed up last month for an acknowledgement ceremony at the Baltimore District Court's Hargrove location in South Baltimore. They shook hands with Judge Lipman, posed for a picture and feasted on fried chicken.
Most were there to get a pat on the back for complying with their treatment and probation plans, while a handful were graduating from the program, having completed their probation.
"Probations have to end. This is not a perpetual criminal justice system were dealing with here," Lipman said.
A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in February showed that 18 months after entering a mental health court program, participants were about 38 percent less likely to be rearrested.
The outcome in Baltimore is unclear. The District Court mental health program has been persistently unable to implement a data collection system, according to a report released last year by the Maryland Judiciary Research Consortium.
Part of the problem is that no one has been assigned to collect the data, Lipman said. That's a problem the Circuit Court team vows not to repeat.
Sitting around a conference table in the court's medical office recently, Rasin, Bogins, Taylor and representatives from the Baltimore state's attorney's office and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene laid out some of their plans, which include data collection and analysis from the start.
The Circuit Court program, expected to launch in May, is based on the District Court's and has similar criteria for participation, including compliance with publicly provided treatment programs. And there will be rigorous discussion among all parties before individuals are accepted.
"Obviously, public safety is our office's chief concern," said Deputy State's Attorney Elizabeth Embry.
There are more than 250 courts nationwide with mental health programs, and half of them handle felony cases. Murderers won't likely be considered for Baltimore's program, Rasin said, but defendants such as the woman she saw in the beating case in October 2009 will.
The Baltimore Sun is not naming the woman, because she is a victim of sexual crimes. She was released from prison in late 2009 and began attending a grandparenting program and therapy with two counselors.
"We're not going to be friends, but we are going to have a relationship over the next four years or so in which I am going to not watch out for you, but watch over you," Rasin told the defendant at her sentencing hearing, according to a recording. "I want you to get through this probation, to be healthy and to be productive."
At a June status conference with Rasin, the woman said she was doing much better in treatment, which she had avoided for years. "I didn't want to come to terms that I had a problem and had to stay on meds," she said.
Last month, the woman returned for another such checkup. She called herself blessed.