You are here

Behavioral Health Court (RISE)



The RISE Behavioral Health Reentry Court program utilizes a non-adversarial philosophy and coordinated strategy, under the direction of a United States District or Magistrate Judge in collaboration with United States Attorney’s Office (USAO), Federal Public Defender’s Office (FPDO), United States Probation Office (USPO), Contracted Community Treatment Vendor and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-UT).

The program encourages reentry independence through sustainable efforts (RISE) that improve behavioral health, increase self-efficacy, reduce recidivism, and increase public safety. The program supports effective symptom management of serious mental illness (with abstinence for individuals with co-existing substance abuse/dependence), activities of daily living, and social/leisure activities for persons serving a term of supervision.

Participants receive assistance applying for local, state, and federal benefits such as Medicaid, Social Security, and housing.

These coordinated efforts promote personal responsibility, identify and address risk factors, and provide life skills to develop and maintain a healthy, law-abiding lifestyle, resulting in cost-savings by reducing the frequency and/or duration of detention or re-incarceration.

Eligibility Criteria

Candidates for the Behavioral Health Court Program may be identified at any phase of the pretrial or post-conviction supervision process including defendants under conditional release. Individuals referred to the Behavioral Health Court Program need to be competent enough to participate in and understand the court process.

  • Candidates may be evaluated for participation at any phase of pre-trial, post-conviction or conditional release. However, RISE is not a diversion court.
  • Candidates must have been diagnosed by a licensed behavioral health provider with a serious mental illness within the past six months.
  • Applicants are evaluated by the RISE screening committee on a rolling basis. The USAO retains veto authority for acceptance into the program. Sex offenders, certain violent offenders and or those whose underlying crime(s) involves a victim(s) may be deemed ineligible for participation.

Candidates meeting the above criteria may be referred to the Behavioral Health Court Program. Candidates are accepted by a consensus of all team members. Participation in the program is voluntary.

About the RISE Program

Desired outcomes of the RISE Program include:

  • Develop self-respect, receiving respect and emotional support from others.
  • Increase self-control, improved self-worth, and positive self-esteem.
  • Increase knowledge/skills to obtain and maintain meaningful employment if possible
  • Achieve productive use of time, including participating in sober leisure activities and social events.
  • Increase self-sufficiency and self-efficacy.
  • Achieve sense of accomplishment when reaching goals
  • Establish positive pro-social network (recovery-oriented and law-abiding)

Benefits of the program:


  • Targeted mental health treatment and services
  • Access to peer support
  • Avoiding incarceration
  • Getting and remaining clean from drugs and alcohol
  • Long-term success beyond probation
  • Achieving independence and meeting life goals
  • Potential reduction in court supervision release term

The RISE Program consists of specific components to aid with achieving desired outcomes. These components include:

  • Frequent court appearances
  • Judicial interaction and accountability
  • Incentives for positive behavior and program compliance
  • Sanctions for negative behavior and non-compliance
  • Risk/strengths/needs assessments
  • Individualized program plan
  • Intensive behavioral health treatment
  • Assessment for substance abuse/misuse and referral to treatment
  • Medication management
  • Alcohol and drug testing
  • Relapse prevention plans
  • Referrals to community resources
  • Intensive supervision/case management
  • Location monitoring/sobrietor monitoring
  • Life skills training
  • Emphasis on literacy, vocational skills and volunteerism
  • Peer support

Participants must:

  1. Commit for at least one year and complete all four phases to graduate
  2. Attend court in person every week for the entirety of the session
  3. Reside in Salt Lake County during program participation
  4. Attend treatment with the contracted treatment provider

RISE Reentry Court Program Phases

RISE Court Program Details:

  • When: Mondays at 11am
  • Where: U.S. Federal Courthouse, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Court is open to the public with family and prosocial support systems encouraged to attend
  • Court is non-adversarial with weekly one on one discussions with the magistrate judge, educational classes, and roundtable discussions

Success Stories...

"Thank you for helping people make positive life changes."
   D.G. - 2022 Graduate

"I have been able to hold down a job for the first time in years."
   J.G. - 2020 Graduate

"I have reconnected with my family and they are very proud of and supportive of me now."
   D.H. - 2022 Graduate

RISE Court's Peer Specialist:

Tommy is RISE Court’s first graduate to become a State of Utah Certified Peer Support Specialist. He now provides peer support services to RISE Court participants and advocates for them with the RISE Court team. Tommy feels blessed to be where he is today – in recovery, working as a peer support specialist and living in freedom, in his own apartment. But he remembers when times were different.

Tommy grew up on the streets of Salt Lake City and began using drugs and alcohol at the tender age of ten. By the age of fourteen, he was using meth and in the throes of active addiction. In 2020, he was indicted on multiple drug and gun charges and facing 40 years maximum prison sentence, five million dollars in fines, and five years of mandatory imprisonment. He grew extremely depressed to the point of becoming suicidal.

Despite a supportive sister and a sponsor, his mental health rapidly deteriorated. He began reading the Bible and praying, asking for mercy and forgiveness, asking for the legal matters to be reduced or resolved so that he could use his life doing something meaningful and productive to help others.

His prayers were answered when he was referred to the RISE program and received five years of probation, instead of the mandatory prison sentence. At first, though, he didn’t see this as an answer to his prayers. He felt distrusting of the system and thought that somehow he was being ‘set up’ to fail because the expectations of the program seemed impossible.

After a few months in the program, and participating in therapy with a local provider, he began to feel hopeful that he could complete the program and be successful. Slowly, he realized that the judge, his probation officer, and the other RISE Court team members were really rooting for him and supporting him. He realized that it was up to him to choose his attitude toward the program - to make this a positive or a negative experience in his life.

Thankfully, he chose to see the RISE program as a steppingstone that could help him reach a better place. Even though there were many challenges, he persevered.

Tommy has come full circle. Today he uses his lived experience with depression, suicidal ideation, addictions, homelessness, jail/prison, and being involved in the criminal justice system, to help others who are facing similar challenges. Tommy understands the internal and external struggles that participants often face in the program and can therefore encourage participants to stay engaged with the program when the going gets tough and inspire them to hold onto the hope that they, too, can turn their lives around and achieve their own versions of success.

"If there is one statement I would like say to my peers it's this: hold onto a little faith, even in the darkness and never give up on yourself or your dreams.”
   Tommy R. - RISE Court Graduate and Certified Peer Support Specialist


Individuals who meet the above criteria and are interested in participating in the RISE Behavioral Health Court Program are encouraged to attend at least one court hearing to observe the process prior to the referral. If the defendant is in custody, the attorney will need to motion the court to have the individual transported. The representative from the authorized referring agency will complete the referral form.

Behavioral Health Court Referral Form

If you have any questions regarding participating in the R.I.S.E. Program, please reach out to:
Meriska Holt, United States Probation Officer

Additional Resources for Participants

Mental Health and Substance Use Resources
If you (or someone else) are in crisis call, chat or text 988
Suicide and Crisis Hotline - 24/7
Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams may be dispatched through 988

If you are struggling
Utah Warm Line – 8 am to 11 pm daily

NAMI Mentor Help Line – 9 am to 4:15 pm Monday – Friday

Latino Behavioral Health Services – For Spanish speakers

IHC Behavioral Health Navigation Services – For anyone looking for any kind of help with mental health

Mental Health and/or Addiction Recovery Support
NAMI Utah (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Provides classes, support groups, advocacy, and mentor ‘warm line’ at no charge for individuals with mental illness and their families

MHA of Utah (Mental Health America)
Provides classes, groups, links to resources, one-on-one peer support and case management services at no charge to persons with mental illness and/or their families

USARA (Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness)
Provides peer support, coaching, groups, advocacy, and activities at no charge for persons in recovery from addictions and their families

Grief Support
University of Utah Caring Connections
There is a cost involved but you can request a scholarship, if needed

Intermountain Healthcare Grief Support

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Suicide Loss Support Groups

Utah Community Action
Has several programs, including adult education, Head Start/Preschool, Utility Assistance, Case Management and Housing, Nutrition and Weatherization

Easy to navigate resource referrals for finding any type of resource according to your specific needs and your location, from finding a place to sleep tonight to finding food to getting your income taxes prepared

Take Care Utah
Free help navigating health insurance coverage, including Medicaid

Work & Education Resources
Workforce Services Rehabilitation Services

Dept. of Workforce Services

Ticket to Work Program (for people on Disability) Social Security Administration