Kansas leaders coalesce for mental health

The 2022 Kansas Mental Health Summit, the first of its kind in Kansas, brought together more than 600 in-person and online registrants.

By

State News

April 13, 2022 - 3:59 PM

The 2022 Mental Health Summit brought unity of purpose to Gov. Laura Kelly, Senate President Ty Masterson, House Speaker Ron Ryckman and Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Marla Luckert, who pressed for change in the judicial and community response to mental illness. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Marla Luckert looked back Wednesday on her first week as a district court judge 30 years ago and her interaction with a man already well known to courthouse colleagues.

The man, who she referred to as E.T., wasn’t violent at that time but routinely would stop taking medication, became unstable, encounter law enforcement officers and return to court. E.T. would be held at the jail, placed on drug therapy, regain stability and be released into the community. In a few weeks or months, Luckert said, E.T. would start the cycle all over again. This treadmill of life didn’t serve his interests or those of Topekans.

Luckert told hundreds gathering for a two-day conference on mental illness that she recently came upon a handwritten motion filed with the Supreme Court. She recognized the unique penmanship. It was in E.T.’s hand. Decades after her initial encounter, E.T. had yet to break free from the yoke.

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