Thursday, September 27, 2007
From pn.psychiatryonline.org: Criminal defendants with mental illness stay out of jail longer when they are enrolled in programs that divert them from the prison system to the mental health system.
Mental health courts offer an alternative to sending still more people with mental illness to jail. Judges, public defenders, district attorneys, case managers, therapists, probation officers, and psychiatrists together closely supervise defendants selected for these diversion programs, helping with housing, medical care, psychotherapy, education, and job training or coaching.
The goal is to prevent these defendants from committing more crimes and to help them find a place in the community. Offenders who complete the program can have charges dropped or expunged.
About 90 mental health courts operate around the country, yet little is known about the extent to which they reduce the chances of a defendant's committing another crime.
Now a study of the mental health court in San Francisco documents reduced levels of recidivism, as measured by the time to re-offending, although questions remain about what accounts for outcomes and who gets to participate in the programs. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]