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Criminal Justice Interventions for Offenders With Mental Illness: Evaluation of Mental Health Courts in Bronx and Brooklyn, New York, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Shelli B. Rossman; Janeen Buck Willison; Kamala Mallik-Kane; KiDeuk Kim; Sara Debus-Sherrill; P. Mitchell Downey
Date Published
February 2012
14 pages
This is the executive summary of the report on a process and impact evaluation of the mental health courts (MHCs) in Bronx and Brooklyn (New York City).
Findings from the process analysis indicated key differences in the problem solving characteristics and orientation of the two MHCs. Similarities and differences are noted in the MHC teams, Judicial interaction and courtroom dynamics, participation in judicial hearings by defense attorneys and prosecutors, monitoring and testing of participants, clinical assessment, treatment provider networks, treatment placement, referral mechanisms, and the use of rewards and sanctions. Regarding the impact evaluation, the Brooklyn participants did slightly better than Bronx participants regarding criminal justice outcomes. Both groups had considerably better outcomes (lower likelihood of reoffending) than their matched comparisons, who underwent traditional court processing. The age, criminal history, and substance use of program participants were significant predictors of recidivism. Although MHC participants in the study had better criminal justice outcomes than mentally ill offenders in the matched comparison groups, recidivism was still high. The relatively high recidivism rates for both of the study's treatment groups may lend additional credence to the assertions of Skeem et al. (2009), who found that offenders with mental illness score higher than offenders without mental illness in assessments for criminogenic risk-needs. The treatment group for the Bronx impact analysis consisted of individuals who participated in the MHC between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2006 (n = 564). The treatment group for the Brooklyn impact analysis consisted of individuals who participated in the MHC between March 1, 2002, and December 31, 2006 (n = 316). Comparison groups for both impact analyses were drawn from a pool of approximately 5,000 offenders entered in a mental health database. 14 references