Monday, November 12, 2007

Do mental health courts work?

From a new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry:

Many communities have created specialized mental health courts in recent years. However, little research has been done to evaluate the criminal justice outcomes of such courts. This study evaluated whether a mental health court can reduce the risk of recidivism and violence by people with mental disorders who have been arrested. In this study, 170 people who went through a mental health court were compared with 8,067 other adults with mental disorders booked into an urban jail during the same period. Statistical analyses revealed that participation in the mental health court program was associated with longer time without any new criminal charges or new charges for violent crimes. Successful completion of the mental health court program was associated with maintenance of reductions in recidivism and violence after graduates were no longer under supervision of the mental health court. Overall, the results indicate that a mental health court can reduce recidivism and violence by people with mental disorders who are involved in the criminal justice system.
The report, “Effectiveness of a mental health court in reducing criminal recidivism and violence,” is by DE McNiel and RL Binder of the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute in San Francisco. It was published in the September 2007 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry (Volume 164 Number 9). For a reprint, contact the authors at dalem@lppi.uscsf.edu.

 
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