YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In Mahoning County, three specialty courts help deal with specific types of cases before they turn violent.

But a big challenge is when people suffering from mental illness are charged with crimes.

WKBN Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford talks in-depth about these issues with Prosecutor Paul Gains.

Gains discussed those three specialty courts: mental health, drug and veterans court.

“Well, I have always been in favor of those specialty courts, and we’ve always cooperated with the courts regarding the, not only the creation of those courts, but also in the functioning of those courts. I have prosecutors specifically assigned to them,” he said. “And the drug court in Mahoning County is a model nationwide. I know people that have gone through that drug court, many people who have and they’ve basically been able to shake themselves of the habit. And they’re productive citizens. They’re working, and they don’t have the criminal record, because if they successfully complete the drug court, the charges are dismissed.

Gains said this also serves the same incentive in mental health and veterans court. He said these do not deal with violent crimes.

“I don’t want people with mental health problems incarcerated. Unfortunately, the state of Ohio doesn’t have that many facilities to address these concerns,” he said.

Gains said in addition to the special court programs, there are other groups in the area that try to address mental health concerns.

Dee also spoke with Gains about the biggest challenges facing the prosecutor’s office. You can see that interview on First News at 5 p.m. Tuesday or later on