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Effectiveness of a Mental Health Court in Reducing Criminal Recidivism and Violence.

NCJ Number
255431
Journal
American Journal of Psychiatry Volume: 164 Issue: 9 Dated: 2007 Pages: 1395-1403
Author(s)
Dale E. McNiel; Renee L. Binder
Date Published
2007
Length
9 pages
Annotation

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.

Abstract

In response to the large-scale involvement of people with mental disorders in the criminal justice system, 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. The current evaluation used a retrospective observational design to compare the occurrence of new criminal charges for 170 people who entered a mental health court after arrest and 8,067 other adults with mental disorders who were booked into an urban county jail after arrest during the same interval. A matching strategy based on propensity scores was used to adjust analyses for nonrandom selection into mental health court. Propensity-weighted Cox regression analysis, which controlled for other potential confounding variables (demographic characteristics, clinical variables, and criminal history), showed 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. These 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. 2 tables, 2 figures, and 31 references (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2007