Law & Psychiatry: Can Mental Health Courts End the Criminalization of Persons With Mental Illness?
Some preliminary research on mental health courts has been undertaken. An evaluation of the first two years of the Seattle mental health court found that the target population experienced a decrease in involvement with the criminal justice system and an increase in mental health treatment engagement. The report notes that the court's effectiveness was strongly dependent on the ongoing collaborative support of the stakeholders (3). An inquiry into the views of consumers in Broward County, Florida, where the best-known mental health court is located, found that participants in the special court in 1999 did not experience their involvement as coercive (4). Such findings, although tentative, are promising.
In accordance with federal legislation, the U.S. Department of Justice is awarding grants to communities that are creating mental health courts and is funding a national center whose role includes research. As outlined below, at least two sets of issues warrant attention (Author).
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