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Statewide Examination of Mental Health Courts in Illinois: Program Characteristics and Operations

NCJ Number
Arthur J. Lurigio Ph.D.; Monte D. Staton Ph.D.; Shanti Raman M.A.; Lorena Roque M.A.
Date Published
October 2015
242 pages
This report presents the findings and methodology of an evaluation of Illinois mental health courts (MHCs), which were launched nearly 20 years ago to provide treatment and programming under comprehensive case management strategies for offenders diagnosed with mental health issues.
In spring 2010, 19 of Illinois' 23 court circuits participated in a screener survey, which determined that 6 court circuits had no plans for MHC implementation, 6 were in the planning process for establishing a MHC, and 9 had operational programs. The 9 MHCs served 302 participants. Forty-six percent were women, with African-Americans over- represented among participants in relation to the local population; Latinos were under-represented. Most of the Illinois MHCs were characterized by the 10 elements of an MHC defined by the Council of State Governments. MHC services ranged from case management and crisis intervention to in-patient and out-patient treatments with mental health and substance abuse programming and aftercare. All of the MHCs reported using evidence-based practices. Among the three counties selected for an investigation of participant recidivism, 31 percent of participants were rearrested for a felony only, and half were rearrested for a felony or misdemeanor offense. The overwhelming majority of clients reported that their MHC participation benefited them in several ways, including the fostering of general and specific improvements in their well-being and functioning. Future studies of Illinois' MHCs are recommended, and suggestions are provided for how they should be conducted. 7 tables, 6 figures, 14 references, and appended study surveys