Study finds mental health court curbs recidivism

July 26, 2017
Study finds mental health court curbs recidivism
Credit: Florida Institute of Technology

A new study from Florida Institute of Technology has found that criminal defendants who graduated from mental health court demonstrated substantially reduced re-arrest rates a full three years following their release, the longest period of post-program behavior examined in a published study involving mental health courts and the clearest indicator yet of the potential for diversionary programs to ease the burden on the nation's overcrowded prison system.

Additionally, the study from Florida Tech's Julie Costopoulos, an assistant professor in the university's School of Psychology, and doctoral student Bethany Wellman found that for those who participated in mental court, prior criminal behavior, no matter how serious, was not an indicator of post-release recidivism.

And even when they re-offended after failing to complete the full complement of and support, participants committed less serious crimes in doing so, the study found, with the severity of offenses declining the longer they had remained in the mental health court.

"Jail doesn't stop crimes by the mentally ill, treatment does. Yet jails and prisons are now the largest mental health treatment facilities in the United States," Costopoulos said. "We know mental health court not only reduces jail overcrowding, it also helps participants find support to live independently and successfully while getting treatment. And now, with our study, we have shown that mental health courts also reduce arrests by the mentally ill, regardless of how much they have offended in the past."

The study, "The Effectiveness of One Mental Health Court: Overcoming Criminal History," was published online June 21 in the journal Psychological Injury and Law.

In the study, Costopoulos and Wellman note that their findings add to a growing body of evidence of the value of mental health courts from almost every perspective – human, economic, criminal justice, societal – compared to more traditional incarceration, which has been shown to be ineffective at reducing recidivism while actually exacerbating .

Mental health courts combine judicial supervision with community-based and other support services. There are roughly 300 of them in the United States, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Nearly half of the total can be found in just five states – California, New York, Ohio, Florida and Illinois – and seven states have no mental health courts.

The first mental health court was created in Broward County, Florida, in 1992, modeled on a drug court program that brought community-based treatment and social welfare elements into the proceedings.

Defendants must be invited to participate in mental health courts by agreement of the state attorney and public defender and they must display evidence of mental illness.

For their study, Costopoulos and Wellman used data on 118 participants in the Brevard County, Florida, . Of those, 80 graduated and 38 were dismissed prior to graduation.

Explore further: Mental health courts improve relationships, help people manage health care

More information: 10.1007/s12207-017-9290-x Julie S. Costopoulos et al. The Effectiveness of One Mental Health Court: Overcoming Criminal History, Psychological Injury and Law (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s12207-017-9290-x

Related Stories

Mental health courts improve relationships, help people manage health care

December 15, 2016
Mental health courts provide a voluntary option for criminal offenders. These courts incorporate mental health assessments, treatment plans and ongoing monitoring to address the health needs of offenders in an effort to keep ...

Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults has mental illness or drug problem

July 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Nearly 1 in 5 American adults deals with a mental illness or substance abuse problem each year, a U.S. government study says.

Psychiatric symptoms impact mental health court engagement`

May 2, 2016
People living with mental illness are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. It is estimated that 1 million people with mental illnesses are arrested and booked in the U.S. each year. As such, interventions to help ...

Age does not predict success for those in court-based mental health treatment programs

April 9, 2014
Statistics show that the amount of older adults in the criminal justice system has quadrupled in the past 15 years. Many of the adults have histories of mental health problems and are being placed in court-based treatment ...

Recommended for you

Researchers link epigenetic aging to bipolar disorder

December 12, 2017
Bipolar disorder may involve accelerated epigenetic aging, which could explain why persons with the disorder are more likely to have - and die from - age-related diseases, according to researchers from The University of Texas ...

Researchers find common psychological traits in group of Italians aged 90 to 101

December 12, 2017
In remote Italian villages nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and mountains lives a group of several hundred citizens over the age of 90. Researchers at the University of Rome La Sapienza and University of California San ...

Twitter can reveal our shared mood

December 11, 2017
In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Bristol have analysed mood indicators in text from 800 million anonymous messages posted on Twitter. These tweets were found to reflect strong patterns ...

New therapy can help schizophrenia sufferers re-engage socially

December 11, 2017
A new therapy aimed at helping young people suffering from schizophrenia to reconnect and engage with the world around them has had promising results, according to a new University of Sussex-led study.

Infant brain responses predict reading speed in secondary school

December 11, 2017
A study conducted at the Department of Psychology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and Jyväskylä Centre for Interdisciplinary Brain Research (CIBR) has found that the brain responses of infants with an inherited ...

Certain books can increase infant learning during shared reading, study shows

December 11, 2017
Parents and pediatricians know that reading to infants is a good thing, but new research shows reading books that clearly name and label people and objects is even better.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.