Mental Health Courts

Is Diversion Swift? Mental Health Court vs. Traditional Processing

UAlbany Faculty Research Award Program

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

Abstract
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.

Publication 

Redlich, A. D., Liu, S., Steadman, H. J., Callahan, L., & Robbins, P. C. (2012). Is diversion swift?: Comparing mental health court and traditional criminal justice processing. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39, 420-433.

Article selected for a Sage Publications podcast: http://cjb.sagepub.com/content/39/4/420/suppl/DC1 


The MacArthur Mental Health Court Project

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Network on Community Mandated Treatment, Professor John Monahan  Comic about Mental Health Treatment: "Morag still needs more treatment!" "Compulsory treatment order?" "Short term detention certificate?"

Co-Researchers: Henry J. Steadman, Lisa Callahan, and Pamela C. Robbins

Abstract
The purpose of the MacArthur MHC Study was to determine whether participation in mental health courts (as opposed to treatment as usual) leads to better access to mental health and substance abuse treatment in the community, and in turn, whether increased access leads to more favorable mental health and criminal justice outcomes (e.g., improved quality of life, lowered recidivism). Briefly, MHCs are criminal courts for persons with mental illness and serve as a form of diversion from jails/prisons into community mental health treatment.

The MacArthur MHC Study had five primary research questions: 1) Is participation in MHCs associated with more favorable criminal justice outcomes than processing through the regular criminal court system?; 2) Does participation in a MHC produce higher rates of treatment participation than processing through the regular criminal court system?; 3) Is higher treatment participation associated with more favorable mental health and criminal justice outcomes than lower treatment participation?; 4) Do high sanctioning MHCs have higher rates of treatment participation than low sanctioning MHCs?; and 5) For what type of defendants do MHCs produce the most favorable mental health and criminal justice outcomes? To answer these questions, data were collected by self-report and via objective record reviews. Self-report data came from more than 1,000 MHC clients and jail inmates at each of four data collection sites. Objective records came from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, jail and court records, and treatment utilization systems.

Publications

Redlich, A. D. & *Han, W. (2013). Examining the links between therapeutic jurisprudence and mental health court completion. Law and Human Behavior.

Steadman, H. J., Redlich, A. D., Callahan, L., Robbins, P. C., & Vesselinov, R. (2011). Assessing the impact of mental health courts on arrests and jail days: A multi-site study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68, 167-172.

Redlich, A. D., Steadman, H. J., Callahan, L., Robbins, P. C., Vesselinov, R., & Ozdogru, A. A. (2010). The use of mental health court appearances in supervision. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 33, 272-277.  


Mental Health Court Comprehension: Predictors and Influence on Treatment Compliance and Receipt of Sanctions

The National Science Foundation

Co-PI: Henry J. Steadman

Co-Researchers: Steven Hoover and Alicia Summers

Abstract
Mental health courts (MHCs) are rapidly expanding as a form of diversion from jails and prisons for persons with mental illness charged with crimes. Although intended to be voluntary, not much is known about this aspect of the courts. In the present study, we examined perceptions of voluntariness, and levels of knowingness and legal competence among 200 newly enrolled clients of MHCs at two courts. Although most clients claimed to have chosen to enroll, at the same time, most claimed not to have been told the court was voluntary or told of the requirements prior to entering. The majority knew the “basics” of the courts, but fewer knew more nuanced information. A minority also were found to have impairments in legal competence. Implications are discussed.

Publications

Redlich, A. D., Hoover, S., Summers, A., & Steadman, H.J. (2010). Enrollment in mental health courts: Voluntariness, knowingness, and adjudicative competence. Law and Human Behavior, 34, 91-104.

Redlich, A. D. (2005). Voluntary, but knowing and intelligent? Comprehension in mental health courts. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 605-619.