Jun 18, 2006 — The Champlain Valley chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness gives its top award to Judge Penelope Clute in Plattsburgh tonight. It's an unusual partnership. The criminal justice system isn't well suited to dealing with the mentally ill. Jails and prisons are the de facto asylums of our times. Judge Clute is breaking ground in Clinton County, with a court specifically designed for people with severe mental illness. Mental health court codifies a team approach that brings the mental health and the justice systems together. It gives people with mental illness new opportunities to stay out of jail, and the "system" new leverage to intervene. There are only eight other courts like it in the state. Gregory Warner went to court, and has this story.