From Referral to Disposition: Case Processing in Seven Mental Health Courts

University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, United States
Behavioral Sciences & the Law (Impact Factor: 0.96). 03/2005; 23(2):215-26. DOI: 10.1002/bsl.641
Source: PubMed


The number of mental health courts in the United States is rapidly increasing, from one in 1997 to nearly 100 in 2004. However, to date there is comparatively little research regarding these specialty courts. The present study reports data on the referral and disposition decision-making processes of seven mental health courts. Information on all referrals to the seven courts over a three-month period was gathered. Results show that, in comparison with individuals involved in the criminal justice system, mental health court clients are more likely to be older, White, and women than individuals in the general criminal justice system. Furthermore, this over-representation occurs at the point of referral, rather than at the point of the court's decision to accept or reject a referral. In addition, the length of time from referral to diversion is much longer in these mental health courts than in other types of diversion programs. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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    • "ly to be arrested after involvement in MHC . Therefore , as Steadman et al . ( 2011 ) suggest , the question is not whether MHCs work , but for whom they work best . Since the first MHC , researchers have also examined the inner workings of MHCs to determine similarities and differences across courts ( Griffin et al . 2002 ; Redlich et al . 2005 ; Steadman et al . 2005 ) . In the largest of these studies , Redlich and colleagues ( 2005 ) conducted a national survey of 40 MHCs and suggested a ' ' second generation ' ' of courts were emerging that differed from the original MHCs . They noted four dimensions that separate this second generation from the original MHCs : post - plea ( rather than pre - ple"
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    • "These findings also applied to defendants who had not successfully completed the court, suggesting that even non-completion exposure to the court was effective at reducing recidivism rates in this population. Another study by Steadman et al. (2005) has shown that while defendants who participated in mental health court were arrested more often for technical probation violations, those who were eligible, but did not participate in mental health court, were likely to be arrested for more serious crimes. Again, this finding may be explained by the increased amount of scrutiny in mental health court in that defendants in mental health court are seen much more frequently than those in traditional court proceedings and are continuously monitored by members of their treatment team. "
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    • "Some MHCs will only accepts persons with Axis I disorders. In a recent evaluation of seven MHCs, Steadman et al. (2005) found that 48% of referrals had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder. Further, having a serious mental illness was positively predictive of MHC acceptance. "
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