Is Diversion Swift? Mental Health Court vs. Traditional Processing

Faculty Research Award Program

Co-Researchers: Dilys (Siyu) Liu, Henry J. Steadman, Lisa Callahan, and Pamela C. Robbins

Formal diversion programs are increasingly-popular options for offenders with mental illness. Diversion is recommended, and often assumed, to be swift in that eligible persons should be identified and quickly enrolled. In this study, we examine how long it takes from initial arrest to enrollment into mental health court and compare with time from arrest to disposition for offenders with and without mental illness traditionally processed. Using medians as our metric and limiting the period to one year, we found time to MHC was 70 days, whereas traditional processing for offenders with and without known mental illness was 37 and 76 days, respectively. We also found detention status during this period to have a large effect on processing time.