U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Impact of Community Treatment and Neighborhood Disadvantage on Recidivism in Mental Health Courts

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2016
160 pages
This study examined the impact of community-based treatment and neighborhood disadvantage on recidivism among offenders with mental health problems who were processed in mental health courts (MHCs) and in traditional courts.

The study found that offenders with mental illness whose cases were processed in mental health courts had better treatment outcomes as evidenced by reduced recidivism (arrest statistics) compared to mentally ill offenders processed by traditional courts. This tends to support the belief that use of the risk-need-responsivity model and the use of therapeutic jurisprudence as a court management style improve case outcomes. In addition, the factor of disadvantaged neighborhoods showed a significant influence on recidivism outcomes among MHC participants, which supports the ecological system theory and social disorganization theory. Understanding treatment characteristics and neighborhood disadvantages associated with recidivism for offenders with mental illness can lead to more efficiently targeted research, practice, and policy in the future. Data from the Macarthur (MHC) study were analyzed. The sample included 741 offenders with mental illness from four counties. Participants were interviewed at baseline and 6 months after. Objective arrest data were collected. Multilevel modeling and propensity score weighting were used to investigate individual level and neighborhood level variance on recidivism as well as control for selection bias. Neighborhood disadvantage data were obtained from the American Community Survey at the U.S. Census Bureau. These data were linked with residential data for participants. 14 tables, 2 figures, and 261 references

Date Published: December 1, 2016