Behavioral Sciences & the Law

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Volume 37 Issue 4 (July 2019), Pages 3-468

The impact of mental health court: A Sacramento case study (pages 452-467)

Abstract Mental health courts (MHCs) use a collaborative justice approach to provide a therapeutic alternative to the traditional justice process for defendants with mental illnesses directly relevant to their alleged criminal offenses. MHCs have proliferated in recent years, in light of early research reports documenting their successes. The aim of this paper is to provide further evaluation of the effects of MHCs by evaluating the impact of the Sacramento County MHC in California. We analyzed quantitative data and conducted interviews with stakeholders and MHC participants to understand how the MHC influenced individual participants' recidivism rates, mental health, and quality of life. Results from the quantitative data analysis indicate that defendants had a lower rate of recidivism after the MHC program than before it. Moreover, graduates were less likely to be rearrested and rehospitalized than non‐graduates. Qualitative analyses revealed several core themes regarding participants' views on facilitators and barriers related to the MHC's success. These findings provide further insights into the effectiveness of MHCs.

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