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Criminal Justice Interventions for Offenders with Mental Illness: Evaluation of Mental Health Courts in Bronx and Brooklyn, New York

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2012
202 pages
This report presents the findings and methodology of the evaluation of mental health courts (MHCs) in Bronx and Brooklyn (New York City).

Findings from the process evaluation (how the courts operated) indicate there were key differences in the problem solving characteristics and orientation of the two mental health courts that could impact participant outcomes. The areas assessed in the process evaluation were judicial interaction and courtroom dynamics, participation levels of other courtroom actors, monitoring and testing, clinical assessment, treatment provider networks, treatment placement, referral mechanisms, and the use of rewards and sanctions. The evaluation's impact analysis indicated that mental health court participants were significantly less likely to recidivate compared to similar offenders with mental illness who were processed under traditional court procedures. In addition, the individuals who reoffended were more likely to commit drug crimes than violent or property crimes. The extent of the impact differed across the two programs. Data are compared for the two courts on rearrest and reconviction. Still, the breakdown of offense type was similar for the treatment and comparison groups. In both evaluations, the treatment group had a better chance of refraining from recidivism than the comparison group and took longer than the comparison group to recidivate. Several avenues for future research are identified. Approximately 100 references, appended information on methodology, 8 figures, and 43 tables

Date Published: February 1, 2012