I recently had a client complete the Seminole County Mental Health DiversionProgram. This program allows those with mental health issues and who elect to participate an opportunity to have their criminal case dismissed. It is a fairly rigorous process and is overseen by Judge John Woodard. I believe this is a wonderful program and Judge Woodard deserves a lot of credit for his involvement in the program. Below is a letter that I wrote to him and I think it is worth sharing as I truly believe that he deserves to be recognized:
The Honorable John Woodard III:
I wanted to thank you for taking a roll in the Seminole County Mental Health Court program. Without judges like you, this program would never have gotten off the ground. Upon graduation from the program you have the entire courtroom applaud the efforts of the participant, but I truly feel you too should be recognized as well.
I recently had a client complete the program and have seen the changes that he has made in his life. While he did a great deal of work, I believe that your program certainly had a lot to do with his success. I know he is in a better place and his parents see the change in his personality as well.
All too regularly we are reminded what occurs in our society when mental health issues are ignored or not recognized. While this is not intended to be an editorial, I think that as society these issues need to be addressed and not politicized. Punishing people with mental health issues rather than offering them help is only going to compound their problems and make it harder for them to get the help that they need.
I wanted to take the time to thank you for heading up the Seminole County Mental Health program. I think you have done a service to Seminole County. I recognize that you truly care about the participants and believe that they see that as well.
Very truly yours,