Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 659–674 | Cite as

Mental Health Court Outcomes: A Comparison of Re-Arrest and Re-Arrest Severity Between Mental Health Court and Traditional Court Participants

Original Article


Mental health courts have been proliferating across the country since their establishment in the late 1990’s. Although numerous advocates have proclaimed their merit, only few empirical studies have evaluated their outcomes. This paper evaluates the effect of one mental health court on criminal justice outcomes by examining arrests and offense severity from one year before to one year after entry into the court, and by comparing mental health court participants to comparable traditional criminal court defendants on these measures. Multivariate models support the prediction that mental health courts reduce the number of new arrests and the severity of such re-arrests among mentally ill offenders. Similar analysis of mental health court completers and non-completers supports the prediction that a “full dose” of mental health treatment and court monitoring produce even fewer re-arrests.


Mental health court Diversion Coerced treatment 



The authors wish to thank Stacy de Coster, Rodney Engen, Anne Schiller, Catherine Zimmer, Heathcote Wales, and Kathleen Hartford for their insightful criticism and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychological Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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