221449 How mental health courts really work

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Pamela Robbins , Policy Research Associates, Inc., Delmar, NY
In this paper we compare four mental health courts in terms of key participant characteristics and processing of clients into and through the court. Characteristics include target offense, diagnosis, demographics, clinical measures, and self-reported behavioral health factors such as illegal substance use and homelessness. Mental health court processes are compared such as length of time from target arrest to mental health court enrollment, time under court supervision, extent of involvement in the court, and court outcomes. In addition, we discuss the role of sanctions in mental health courts such as jail time and warrants for violations. This study includes four mental health courts that vary in eligibility, duration, and participant characteristics, in part due to geographic differences. While it is widely believed that mental health courts are generally for “minor misdemeanor” offenses, this is not the case as is demonstrated with this study. Further discussed in this paper is which mental health court participants show improved behavioral health outcomes such as reduced homelessness and improved self-reported illegal drug use.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how mental health courts enroll participants and provide special supervision. 2. Compare the differences across 4 mental health courts in terms of client characteristics, case processing, and outcomes. 3. Differentiate between the mental health participants who show improvements and those who do not.

Keywords: Criminal Justice, Mental Health Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been conducting research in the area of mental health services since 1976. I have numerous publications in refereed journals and have directed a number of federal, state, and private research grants.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.