Justice for Minds: Addressing Mental Health Challenges in the Criminal Justice System


Monday, February 26, 2024
2:15 PM - 3:15 PM
Session Type: Workshop

The high prevalence of mental illness in the U.S., affecting nearly one in five adults, often leads individuals with serious mental illness to enter the justice system for treatment, resulting in a disproportionate rate of incarceration over hospitalization. While specialty courts like Mental Health Courts exist, they can sometimes exclude certain individuals. To address this, a two-tier approach is proposed to serve those in acute crisis and those without the required level of serious mental illness for Mental Health Court eligibility. This session will center on understanding different strategies to address clients with all levels of mental health, leveraging community providers & services, and how to effectively implement a similar model in your court/agency.


Margoth Tello, MPA
Court Program Administrator, Las Vegas Municipal Court

Margoth Tello holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Public Policy from UNLV. In her current role as Court Programs Administrator at the Las Vegas Municipal Court, Margoth has successfully managed multiple projects, overseeing specialty drug courts, educational programs, and special initiatives. Past experience includes tenure at Salt Lake County Criminal Justice Services and The Road Home, Utah’s largest homeless shelter. Margoth is a seasoned professional with a strong background in public administration and program management, specializing in working with vulnerable populations, including individuals experiencing homelessness, refugees, and veterans. With over five years in the criminal justice field, Margoth has made a significant impact on her community. Certified as a Trauma Informed trainer and a SAMHSA trainer for Trauma in the Criminal Justice System. Margoth's dedication extends beyond her professional roles. Her volunteer work with Return Strong and Ruff Haven highlights her commitment to advocating for individuals impacted by the criminal justice system and supporting her community. Whether assisting the Spanish-speaking community in Utah or contributing to legislative changes in Nevada, Margoth remains dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of those she serves.

Matthew Walker
Senior Deputy City Attorney, Las Vegas Municipal Court

Matt Walker has been a prosecutor with the City of Las Vegas since 2008. In 2016, having seen the limitations of the court system in dealing with mentally ill defendants, he worked in partnership with the court, state agencies, and private partners to develop the PST (Psychiatric Stabilization and Treatment) program, a program which has worked to address acute mental illness among criminal inmates and facilitate their hospitalization and treatment. Matt continues to shepherd the program, which in 2022 was expanded to fill its own court docket to accommodate its growing participant base.